It took until nearly midnight on Friday before a handful of major developing countries proposed a compromise. Accept this and throw the ball, or suffer the consequences of a G20 collapse.
After five days of painstaking discussions, Western representatives accepted the deal. The scale of their concessions became clear as their bosses gathered at a summit in New Delhi the next day.
The United States, the European Union and other Western allies agreed to remove condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine from the meeting communiqué in exchange for a pledge by all 20 countries, including Russia and China, to respect territorial integrity and strive to achieve “justice.” Peace in Kiev”.
“This is a concession,” said Sarang Shidore, director of the Global South Program at the Quincy Institute.
Although Chinese leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin did not attend the summit, the extent to which Western allies were willing to compromise underscored how eager they are to salvage the credibility of an organization that has come under intense pressure just over 18 months since Russia invaded Ukraine. forward.
“If we had written the text ourselves, the situation would be very different,” a senior EU official said. “This is a process of building global consensus. So if that means working out a compromise, then that’s what . . . needs to be done. “
U.S. officials echo this view. The West needs the support of developing powers to have a chance to pressure Russia to abide by global rules and achieve peace in Ukraine.
“The world’s major economies — including, by the way, Brazil, India, South Africa — are united in upholding international law and the need for Russia to respect international law,” said U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Feiner.
Russia’s chief negotiator praised the statement as “balanced”, which also called for a return to the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow has withdrawn from for exports of Ukrainian food. However, Ukraine condemned the shift in rhetoric as “nothing to be proud of”.
The New Delhi declaration represents the most far-reaching effort by Washington, Brussels and other Western capitals to forge a common ground with the world’s most powerful developing economy, acknowledging that they cannot force Putin to make concessions on his own.
It was also a largely unexpected victory for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who faces national elections next year. Analysts said Modi decided to use the G20 presidency as a year-long platform to promote India’s culture, foreign policy goals and ambitions as a leader of the so-called “global south” , a decision that has paid off.
“Washington has clearly gone the extra mile to ensure that its emerging and increasingly close partner India is not embarrassed by the first G20 meeting without a joint statement,” Siddall said.
Since India began its G20 presidency in December, a working group of central bank governors, education, health, tourism and other ministers has sought to break the “Bali Paragraph” ahead of this weekend’s leaders’ summit. text) deadlock. A summit in Indonesia last November condemned Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
Russia and China vetoed the language, and many developing countries expressed displeasure at retaining it in this year’s statement.
While India continues to express optimism that the summit can reach consensus, many foreign delegations remain sceptical.
“There are questions about the future of the G20. I think India’s strong leadership has preserved the G20,” the senior EU official said.
Western diplomats argued that their willingness to compromise on dropping references to Russian “aggression” secured language in which China and others agreed to halt attacks on infrastructure, restore the Black Sea food deal and safeguard territorial integrity.
Amitabh Kant, India’s chief negotiator for the Group of 20 (G20), said at a news conference on Sunday that the compromise “shows the ability of the prime minister and India to bring all developing countries, all emerging The market, all developed countries – China, Russia, etc. – unite. There is consensus at the same table.”
Kant said all 83 paragraphs of the leaders’ declaration had been “100 percent accepted,” including eight related to geopolitical issues. “This is a complete statement that is one hundred percent consistent,” Kant said.
India also secured progress on the African Union’s accession to the G20, commitments on multilateral banking reforms, cryptocurrency regulation and a debt restructuring framework for heavily indebted countries.
China, however, did not do so with much fanfare, downplaying the victory for delegates led by Xi Jinping’s second-in-command, Prime Minister Li Qiang. Under the headline that Xi Jinping discussed the development of Northeast China, the official news agency Xinhua News Agency only published a brief report on the G20.
French President Emmanuel Macron also tried to downplay the compromise in the communiqué, saying the G20 was “not a forum for political discussion.”
“We came here mainly to discuss economic topics and climate change,” Macron told reporters after the summit. “Given that Russia is a member of the G20, we certainly disagree on the Ukraine issue. That is, this is not the primary place to address this issue.”
However, other Western representatives claimed that this weekend’s compromise would help them persuade developing countries to pressure Moscow to end the war. Their negotiating partners will now return to the capital and pledge to protect Ukraine’s territory and infrastructure.
“The discussion is not over yet,” the senior EU official added. “But it’s another stepping stone in the right direction.”
Additional reporting by Joe Leahy in Beijing