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Boris Johnson Resigns. Ukraine Looms Over G-20 Meeting.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, at the meeting, but U.S.-Russia talks are off the table.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
Motorcyclists ride past a banner for the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting.
Motorcyclists ride past a banner for the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting.
Motorcyclists ride past a banner for the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting, scheduled to be held on July 7 and July 8, outside the meeting venue in Nusa Dua on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on July 5. SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, looking at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation after a cabinet revolt, the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting, and more news worth following from around the world.

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Indonesia Hosts G-20 Foreign Ministers

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, looking at British Prime Minister Boris Johnsons resignation after a cabinet revolt, the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting, and more news worth following from around the world.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Indonesia Hosts G-20 Foreign Ministers

Foreign ministers from G-20 nations gather today on the Indonesian island of Bali for a two-day meeting, where the war in Ukraine is expected to dominate conversation.

The meeting is another chance for the world’s largest economies to take stock of the economic impacts of the war, and it includes many major countries that have decided to stay neutral in the conflict, such as India, Brazil, and host Indonesia.

It’s also a chance for the host nation to showcase its diplomatic strength ahead of a potentially fraught leaders meeting in October. As things stand, Indonesia has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend despite pressure from Western nations to keep him away.

As one of the many nonaligned nations caught between the West and Russia over the war in Ukraine, Indonesia has been walking a diplomatic tightrope. Indonesia has a stake in both camps: as a customer for Russian military equipment and due to its reliance on Ukrainian wheat.

In June, Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited both Kyiv and Moscow in a bid to free up food and fertilizer supplies frozen by the war. At the G-7 summit, Widodo pressed the group to limit the impact of sanctions on global food supplies.

Indonesians are suspicious of the major powers. Trust in both China and the United States has plummeted in the last 10 years, according to a recent poll taken by the Lowy Institute. Just 56 percent of those polled said they trusted the United States to act responsibly, down from 72 percent in 2011. China saw a similar drop, albeit from a lower position: 60 percent trusted China to act responsibly in 2011 versus 42 percent today.

When the poll asked about confidence in other world leaders, a surprising choice topped the list: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He was followed by United Arab Emirates leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan while U.S. President Joe Biden placed fourth.

The cold shoulder. Although the question of whether Putin will attend October’s summit in person is still open, his chief diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, will be on the ground in Bali today. He’s expected to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi but not with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Olga Oliker, a Russia expert at the International Crisis Group, said the lack of contact between the top U.S. and Russian diplomats isn’t an accident.

“I think its a pretty conscious position from both of them,” Oliker told Foreign Policy. “What are they going to talk about? Are they going to talk about Ukraine? Well, the United States isnt going to do that—its not going to talk about Ukraine without Ukraine, and certainly the Russians dont see them as a credible interlocutor for shuttle diplomacy. So, I suspect that the attitude from both sides is very much: What would we be talking about?”

China talks. Blinken will meet with Yang to highlight U.S. commitment to “intense diplomacy and maintaining open lines of communication” with China, Daniel Kritenbrink, the U.S. State Department’s senior Asia official, told reporters on Tuesday.

If comments from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian are any indication, the Blinken-Wang meeting may not go smoothly. At a press conference on Wednesday, Zhao hit back at U.S. claims regarding China’s alleged disruption of world order. Zhao said Washington “observes international rules only as it sees fit,” and that the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the U.S. self-interest.”


What We’re Following Today

Boris resigns. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation today but plans to stay in office over the summer until a new Conservative Party leader is chosen. Party insiders have denounced the plan to hand over power in autumn. “His behavior in the last 48 hours [has] been reckless and erratic. He cannot be trusted to lead the country until the autumn. God knows what he will do,” said one source close to No. 10 Downing St. Those who oppose keeping Johnson in office want Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab to immediately take over in a caretaker capacity; the opposition Labour Party has threatened to force a no-confidence motion in the government if Johnson doesnt leave office immediately.

Johnson faced an unprecedented number of government resignations on Wednesday. In all, more than 50 members of Parliament had resigned from Johnson’s government by Thursday morning while Michael Gove, a cabinet secretary, was fired. Johnson has spoken to the queen, according to reports, and he addressed the nation Thursday afternoon. The timing of the leadership contest to replace him will be announced next week.


Keep an Eye On

Burkina Faso’s future. Blaise Compaoré, the former Burkinabe president ousted in a 2014 uprising, will return from exile on Friday to participate in a meeting of former heads of state convened by the ruling military junta. Compaoré will join the meeting alongside Roch Kaboré, the president the military threw out in January. Compaoré’s presence is complicated by his sentencing in April to life in prison over the murder of former leader Thomas Sankara. Burkina Faso’s interim presidency said the presence of former leaders at the meeting “does not hinder judicial prosecutions engaged against some of them.”

Congo-Rwanda tensions. Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo agreed to begin a “de-escalation process” on Wednesday after talks between the leaders of the two countries over the activities of the M23 rebel group. Congo’s presidency said the two countries will restart a joint commission next week and called for the return of normal diplomatic relations between the countries. Rwanda has yet to comment on the meeting.


Odds and Ends

Penguins at the Hakone-en Aquarium near Tokyo are having a hard time adjusting to the global rise in the cost of living. As VICE World News reports, efforts to switch the penguins from a diet of Japanese horse mackerel to a less expensive fish in a bid to cut costs have been met with resistance from some of the birds.

“Even if they’ll take it in their beaks, they’ll just spit it out,” Hiroki Shimamoto, the head zookeeper at Hakone-en, told VICE World News.

The belt-tightening only goes so far, as any fussy eaters are instead given the more expensive fish to eat.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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