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The failure of G20 leaders to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a joint statement underscored the lack of global consensus in support of Kyiv after China and Russia refused to blame Moscow for the conflict.
The New Delhi summit declaration only mentioned the “war in Ukraine,” a term Kyiv’s supporters such as the United States and NATO allies had previously rejected because it meant both sides were equally complicit.
The announcement, hammered out after weeks of negotiations by diplomats, is a blow to Western countries that have spent the past year trying to persuade developing countries to denounce Moscow and support Ukraine.
The G20 statement issued in Indonesia last November mentioned “the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.” Western diplomats said China’s refusal to repeat that statement was crucial in pushing host India to come up with compromising language.
Speaking about the war, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said: “In fact, today it is a very polarizing issue and there are many views on it. There are all kinds of views on this, so I think in all fairness, It’s right to document the reality in the boardroom.”
Responding to the statement, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “As far as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is concerned, the G20 has nothing to be proud of. Obviously, the participation of the Ukrainian side will allow participants to better understand the situation.”
The declaration also contained a pledge from the leaders of the world’s largest economies to “pursue and encourage efforts to triple global renewable energy capacity” but did not set a deadline for phasing out fossil fuels. China and Saudi Arabia took the lead in blocking such remarks at the G20 meeting in July.
The adoption of the declaration would be a major foreign policy victory for India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after speculation that the divide over Ukraine was too great to bridge. Modi will face voters in a poll where he will seek re-election for a third term in early 2024.
“We highlight the human suffering and negative impact that the war in Ukraine will have on global food and energy security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation and growth,” the joint statement said. “There are different views and assessments of the situation.”
The declaration called for “a just and lasting peace in Ukraine” but did not explicitly link this demand to the importance of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as has been pushed by Western countries. It also does not include the statement in the 2022 version that states “a majority of members strongly condemn the war.”
A senior Western official attending the summit said the removal of Western criticism of Russia allowed the G20 to agree on other issues, such as a commitment to restart Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, saying the compromise was necessary to maintain consensus. .
“Our choice is text or no text. I think the right answer is text,” the official said. “You keep [G20] Both the platform and the organization are dynamic. “
Still, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the statement had “a series of important passages” about the war in Ukraine.
“From our perspective, it well upholds the principle that states cannot use force to acquire territory. . . . The use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable and a just peace must be based on the principles of the United Nations Charter,” he added.
Overall, Sullivan said, the statement was “a vote of confidence in the G20’s ability to come together to address a range of pressing issues and address difficult issues that actually divide some members deeply from others.”
India regards itself as the leader of the so-called “developing countries in the southern hemisphere” and has also successfully pushed the G20 to absorb the African Union as a full member.
The joint statement also mentioned digital public infrastructure, which India has promoted as a template for financial inclusion and increased economic productivity during his presidency after successfully bringing more than 1 billion people online.
Hanging over the summit is the still unexplained absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He skipped the meeting for the first time, instead sending the country’s second-in-command, Premier Li Qiang, in what some analysts called a “snub”.
But the wording of the communique still reflects many of China’s arguments, such as that the G20 should be limited to international economic issues as well as Ukraine and nuclear weapons. China also touts its role in supporting African Union membership.
Li Keqiang said in his speech at the summit that the G20 needs to “unify rather than divide, cooperate rather than confront, and be inclusive rather than exclusive,” according to Xinhua, the official news agency.
These remarks are consistent with China’s description of the United States and its allies promoting “bloc confrontation” and pursuing a “Cold War mentality.”
Additional reporting by Christopher Miller in Kiev