4 Sept 2023

Ukraine War, Absence Of Putin And Xi Set To Dent G20 Summit


New Delhi: Divisions over Russia's war in Ukraine risk derailing progress on issues such as food security, debt distress and global cooperation on climate change when the world's most powerful nations meet this weekend during G20 Summit in New Delhi.

The hardened stance on the war has prevented agreement on even a single communiqué at the 20 or so ministerial meetings of the G20 during India's presidency this year, leaving it to the leaders to find a solution, if possible.

But China will be represented by Premier Li Qiang, not President Xi Jinping, while Russia has confirmed President Vladimir Putin's absence, suggesting that neither nation is likely to join any consensus.

Summit will be dominated by West and its allies

It means the two-day summit from September 9 will be dominated by the West and its allies. The 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.

A failed summit would expose the limits of cooperation between Western and non-Western powers, and prompt countries to double down on the groups they are more comfortable with, analysts said.

Will Indian presidency be the first to end without a communiqué?

India, which has not condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, will have to either convince the bloc to agree to a joint statement - the so-called Leaders Declaration - or allow its presidency to be the first to end without such a communiqué since 2008.

"The positions have hardened since the Bali Summit," a senior Indian government official said, referring to the 2022 summit held in Indonesia. "Russia and China have toughened their position since then; a consensus would be very hard."

In Bali, Indonesian President Joko Widodo clinched a last minute joint statement from the bloc. India is hoping that the leaders can again work something out at the last minute, another government official said.

The Bali Leaders' Declaration said "most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and devastating global economy."

Another Indian official said that in Bali, "Russia and China were more flexible." But as the war completes 18 months, countries "are not agreeing even to the language used in the Bali Declaration".

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will come in place of Putin, have already drawn battlelines.

Disappointed that Ukrainian president not invited: Trudeau

Trudeau, while confirming that he will travel to India for the meeting in a call with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said that he was disappointed that the Ukrainian president was not invited.

"As you know, we will be speaking up strongly for you, and we will continue to make sure that the world is standing with Ukraine," Trudeau said in the call with Zelenskiy.

Lavrov said last week Russia will block the final declaration of the G20 summit unless it reflects Moscow's position on Kyiv and other crises. Diplomats said any acceptance of Moscow's stance was highly improbable, and the summit would most likely end up issuing a non-binding or partial communiqué.

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