Ukraine war, absence of Putin and Xi likely to affect G20 summit

By Aftab Ahmed, Krishn Kaushik and YP Rajesh

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Deeper and more entrenched disagreements over Russia’s war in Ukraine threaten to jeopardize progress on issues such as food security, the debt crisis and global cooperation on climate change when the world’s most powerful nations meet in New Delhi this weekend .

Hardened stance on the war has prevented the 20 or so G20 ministerial meetings held during India’s presidency this year from agreeing even a single communiqué, leaving leaders to find a way out if possible .

But China will be represented by Prime Minister Li Qiang rather than President Xi Jinping, while Russia has confirmed President Vladimir Putin’s absence, suggesting neither country is likely to join a consensus.

That means the two-day summit beginning September 9 will be dominated by the West and its allies. G20 leaders who will attend include US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman and Japan’s Fumio Kishida.

Political cartoons about world leaders

A failed summit would show the limits of cooperation between Western and non-Western powers, prompting countries to focus more on groups they are more comfortable with, analysts say.

To combat global threats, “a split into Western and non-Western blocs is not what you want,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington.

Failure to strike a consensus will also hurt the diplomatic credibility of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is using the presidency to bolster New Delhi’s position as an economic powerhouse and leader of the Global South.

“If the leaders’ summit is a flop, New Delhi and Modi in particular will have suffered a major diplomatic and political setback,” Kugelman said.

India, which has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, must either persuade the bloc to agree to a joint declaration — the so-called Leaders’ Declaration — or allow its presidency to become the first country since 2008 to end without such a communique ends.

“Since the Bali summit, positions have tightened,” a senior Indian government official told Reuters, referring to the 2022 summit in Indonesia. “Russia and China have since tightened their position, a consensus would be very difficult.”

In Bali, Indonesian President Joko Widodo obtained a last-minute joint statement from the Union. India hopes leaders could once again find a last-minute solution, another government official said.

The Bali leaders’ statement said: “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it is causing immense human suffering and aggravating existing vulnerabilities in the global economy.”

It was also said that there were “other views and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions”.

Another Indian official said Russia and China are more flexible in Bali. But as the 18-month war draws to a close, countries “do not even agree with the wording used in the Bali Declaration”.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will replace Putin, have already drawn front lines.

While confirming in a phone call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy that he would travel to India for the meeting, Trudeau said he was disappointed that the Ukrainian president had not been invited.

“As you know, we will stand up for you and continue to ensure that the world stands with Ukraine,” Trudeau said in the call with Zelenskyy.

Lavrov said last week Russia would block the G20 summit’s final statement unless it reflected Moscow’s position on Kiev and other crises. Diplomats said acceptance of Moscow’s stance was highly unlikely and the summit would most likely end in a non-binding or partial communiqué.

Last month, the BRICS group of countries, of which China is the heavyweight, brought half a dozen more countries into the bloc in a bid to reorganize a world order it sees as obsolete.

“Xi’s absence could be Beijing’s attempt to hammer a nail in the G20 coffin just weeks after expanding the BRICS organization more in line with China’s worldview,” said David Boling, director of consultancy Eurasia Group.

India is a member of the BRICS countries along with Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa and previously had some concerns about expanding the bloc. But at the Johannesburg summit last month, consensus was reached on the criteria for new participants.

During its G20 presidency, India has tried to sideline differences over Ukraine, pushing for a solution on climate change, debt-vulnerability, cryptocurrency rules and multilateral banking reforms.

New Delhi has also sought to break the deadlock over a deal that allowed Ukrainian grain to be safely exported across the Black Sea, but Russia is unlikely to back down from its opposition to the plan, Indian officials said.

Little progress was made during the year on talks on debt restructuring and a global minimum corporate tax rate, but India was able to enlist US and IMF support for overarching global cryptocurrency regulations.

A G20 committee led by former Indian bureaucrat NK Singh and economist Larry Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary, has also proposed increasing multilateral bank lending to developing countries. No agreement has yet been reached on the proposal.

Developed and developing countries were also divided on climate targets at the group’s July meetings, and officials said positions at the summit were unlikely to change.

(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova, Kentaro Sugiyama and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

Brian Ashcraft is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button