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G20 leaders failed to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a joint statement after China and Russia rejected language that blamed Moscow for the conflict, highlighting the lack of global consensus to support Kiev.
New Delhi Summit announcement It refers only to “the war in Ukraine,” a formulation previously rejected by Kiev’s supporters, such as the United States and NATO allies, because it suggests both sides are equally complicit.
The statement, reached over weeks of negotiations and hours of intense discussion among diplomats while the summit was already underway, is a blow to Western countries that have spent the past year trying to convince developing countries to condemn Moscow and support Ukraine.
The previous G20 declaration, issued in Indonesia last November, referred to “the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.” Western diplomats said China’s refusal to repeat this formula was crucial in pushing host India to propose settlement language.
Referring to the war, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said: “It is a fact that today this is a very polarizing issue and there are multiple views on this. There are a variety of views on this matter, so I think in all fairness that it was right to put on record what It was located in conference rooms.
The declaration also includes a pledge by the leaders of the world’s largest economies to “pursue and encourage efforts to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity,” but it does not include any deadline for phasing out fossil fuels. China and Saudi Arabia led efforts to block such language at G20 meetings in July.
Adopting the declaration would mark a foreign policy coup for India and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after speculation that divisions over Ukraine were too great to overcome. Modi will face voters in a ballot in which he seeks re-election to a third term in early 2024.
“We highlighted the human suffering and added negative impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food and energy security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation and growth,” the joint statement said. “There were different points of view and assessments of the situation.”
The declaration called for “a just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” but it did not explicitly link this request to the importance of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as Western countries demanded. It also did not include the statement from the 2022 edition that noted that “most members strongly condemn the war.”
However, Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, said the declaration contains “a set of interconnected paragraphs” on the war in Ukraine.
“In our view, it does a very good job of defending the principle that states may not use force to seek to seize territory… The use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable, and that a just peace must be based on the principles of the UN Charter,” he added.
Overall, the statement was “a vote of confidence that the G20 can come together to address a pressing range of issues, as well as to deal with the difficult issues that actually divide some members from others,” Sullivan said.
India, which describes itself as a leader of the so-called Global South group of developing countries, has also succeeded in its campaign to get the G20 to appoint the African Union as a full member.
“It is a particular relief to us that the African Union has become a member of the G20 during the Indian presidency,” Jaishankar told reporters.
The joint statement also refers to digital public infrastructure, which India has been touting as a model for financial inclusion and economic productivity gains during its presidency after its successful push to bring more than a billion people online.
The summit was overshadowed by the unexplained absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He skipped the meeting for the first time, instead sending the country’s No. 2 cadre, Premier Li Qiang, in what some analysts described as a “disdain.”
But the wording of the statement still reflects many of China’s talking points, such as the need for the G20 to limit itself to international economic issues and language related to Ukraine and nuclear weapons. China has also strongly promoted its role in supporting African Union membership.
In his speech at the summit, Li said the G20 needed “unity rather than division, cooperation rather than confrontation, and inclusion rather than exclusion,” according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
These statements are consistent with China’s portrayal of the United States and its allies as pushing to “confront the bloc” and engaging in a “Cold War mentality.”
Li also told the audience that China will inject momentum into the global economy despite its faltering recovery from Covid, with signs that the traditional growth engines in real estate and debt-fueled infrastructure spending are running out of steam.
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