'This is a game in politics:' Russian foreign minister Lavrov hits back after being rushed to hospital at G20 summit

14 November 2022, 09:18 | Updated: 14 November 2022, 11:22

Lavrov was reportedly hospitalised but Russian officials later posted video of him apparently at a hotel dismissing the reports as 'fake'
Lavrov was reportedly hospitalised but Russian officials later posted video of him apparently at a hotel dismissing the reports as 'fake'. Picture: Social Media/Alamy

By Asher McShane

Russia’s foreign minister has been taken to hospital for treatment after arriving for the G20 summit in Bali.

Three Indonesian government and medical officials told The Associated Press that the Russian diplomat was being treated on the island but Russia - and Lavrov himself - dismissed the reports.

Two of the people, who declined to be identified, said Lavrov received treatment for a heart condition.

Video footage posted online showed Lavrov in shorts and a t-shirt apparently at his Bali hotel, poring over some documents. The governor of Bali said he had left hospital.

Lavrov addresses speculation about his health in the clip: “They’ve been writing for ten years that he is ill. It’s a kind of game that is not new in politics.

“I would ask them [foreign journalists] to be a bit more honest than they are, to write the truth a bit more and not to limit themselves to one point of view, through which they filter everything where Russian interests are involved in one way or another, which they ignore.

“To our citizens I say a huge thank you for the support for the foreign policy of our president, which we are trying as much as possible to enact.”

Russia has suffered heavy losses in its invasion of Ukraine, with Putin forced to withdraw troops from the city of Kherson last week, in what has been described as a turning point in the conflict.

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Lavrov pictured arriving in Bali for the G20 summit
Lavrov pictured arriving in Bali for the G20 summit. Picture: Getty

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian forces of having committed "the same atrocities as in other regions of our country" before they were forced to pull out from the strategic southern city of Kherson and its surrounds.

In his nightly video address on Sunday, Mr Zelensky said without details that "investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes, and the bodies of both civilians and military personnel have been found".

"In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country," he said. "We will find and bring to justice every murderer. Without a doubt."

The end of Russia's eight-month occupation of Kherson city has sparked days of celebration but also exposed a humanitarian emergency, with residents living without power and water and short of food and medicines.

Russia still controls about 70% of the wider Kherson region.

Mr Zelensky said Russian soldiers who were left behind when their military commanders abandoned the city last week are being detained. He also spoke, again without details, of the "neutralisation of saboteurs".

Ukrainian police have called on residents to help identify people who collaborated with Russian forces.

Mr Zelensky urged people in the liberated zone to also be alert for booby traps, saying: "Please, do not forget that the situation in the Kherson region is still very dangerous. First of all, there are mines. Unfortunately, one of our sappers was killed, and four others were injured while clearing mines."

And he promised that essential services will be restored.

"We are doing everything to restore normal technical capabilities for electricity and water supply as soon as possible," he said.

"We will bring back transport and post. Let's bring back an ambulance and normal medicine. Of course, the restoration of the work of authorities, the police, and some private companies are already beginning."

Residents said departing Russian troops plundered the city, carting away loot as they withdrew last week. They also wrecked key infrastructure before retreating across the wide Dnieper River to its east bank.

One Ukrainian official described the situation in Kherson as "a humanitarian catastrophe".

Reconnecting the electricity supply is the priority, with gas supplies already assured, Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said.

The Russian pullout marked a triumphant milestone in Ukraine's pushback against Moscow's invasion almost nine months ago. In the past two months, Ukraine's military claimed to have retaken dozens of towns and villages north of the city of Kherson.

Ukraine's retaking of Kherson was the latest in a series of battlefield embarrassments for the Kremlin. It came some six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Kherson region and three other provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine - in breach of international law - and declared them Russian territory.