Sun, 03 Jul 2022

Moscow fired back after the US and its allies brought up the Ukraine conflict at the G20 health meeting

Russia has asked other members of the G20 to keep politics out of a global meeting on health issues, after envoys from the US and several of its allies brought up the conflict in Ukraine at the session in Indonesia on Monday. 

American, British, Australian and Canadian officials had used the meeting of G20 health ministries in Yogyakarta to accuse Russia of bombing hospitals in Ukraine.

"Far from promoting global health, Russia has disrupted health services, destroyed health facilities, and continues to strike buildings where innocent civilians including children are sheltering," claimed Andrea Palm, US deputy secretary of Health and Human Services, accusing Moscow of being "directly at odds with the goals of G20 healthcare and our goal of promoting global health." 

"We are asking our colleagues not to politicize [the] G20 health platform and stay within our mandate and discuss healthcare," Russian health ministry representative Oleg Salagay responded. 

Moscow has repeatedly denied Ukrainian and Western accusations that it was targeting hospitals, providing evidence that Kiev's armed forces were using civilians as human shields and deliberately shelling hospitals and civilian objects in Donbass.

Salagay also criticized the plan to set up a slush fund for pandemic preparedness, saying it amounted to duplicating and weakening the role of the World Health Organization (WHO).

"The creation of the so-called Financial Intermediary Fund carries certain risks," the official said. "It is important to prevent duplication of existing international institutions and fragmentation of financial resources, as well as the weakening of the coordinating role of the WHO."

On Tuesday, Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin announced the establishment of the $1.2 billion fund, drawn primarily from the US, EU, Germany, Singapore, Indonesia and private companies. The funds are intended to go to poor countries so they can buy vaccines, tests, medications and other materials necessary to deal with Covid-19 and future pandemics.

The health meeting was held in advance of the main G20 summit, scheduled for October 2022. The group is made up of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, the US, as well as the EU.

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