Division at G20 over bid to condemn Russia’s Ukraine invasion

  • Most G20 members can strongly condemn the war in Ukraine
  • Zelensky calls on the G20 to help end the war according to his plan
  • Indonesia calls for action to solve global economic problems
  • China’s Xi will hold meetings with several other leaders

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, November 15. (Reuters) – The Group of 20 (G20) summit was divided on Tuesday after the United States and its allies backed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russia’s foreign minister dismissed as unwarranted politicization.

The summit on the Indonesian island of Bali is the first meeting of G20 leaders since Russia sent troops to Ukraine in February.

The war, described by Russia as a “special military operation”, overshadowed the meeting, despite calls from Indonesia to unite and focus on action to tackle global economic problems such as inflation, food and energy security.

“The majority of members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing enormous human suffering and increasing the existing fragility of the global economy,” the 16-page draft declaration said, according to a copy provided to Reuters.

“There were different views and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions,” said the draft, which diplomats said had yet to be adopted by leaders.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is leading his country’s delegation in the absence of President Vladimir Putin, condemned Russia as politicizing Western countries that tried unsuccessfully to include it in the declaration.

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Lavrov said Russia presented an alternative approach and the project would be completed on Wednesday.

A US official previously said the United States had hoped the G20 would condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there were encouraging signs of a consensus that Russia’s war on Ukraine was unacceptable.

G20 ministerial meetings have in the past failed to produce joint declarations due to disagreements between Russia and other members over language, as well as over how to describe the war in Ukraine.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a virtual speech at the summit that now is the time to stop Russia’s war in his country, according to his proposed plan “fairly and based on the UN Charter and international law.”

He called for the restoration of “radiation safety” in relation to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the introduction of price restrictions on Russian energy resources and the expansion of the grain export initiative.

“Please choose the path of leadership – and together we will surely implement the peace formula,” he said.

Lavrov, who denied a news agency report on Monday that he had been taken to a hospital in Bali with heart problems, said he had listened to Zelensky’s appeal, adding that the Ukrainian leader was delaying the conflict and not listening to Western advice.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted some Western leaders to call for a boycott of the summit and withdraw Putin’s invitation, but Indonesia has refused to do so.

Russia previously said Putin was too busy to attend the summit and Lavrov was taking his place.

‘SAVE THE WORLD’

The summit began with Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s plea for unity and concrete action to repair the global economy, despite deep differences over the war.

“We have no other option, cooperation is necessary to save the world,” he said. “The G20 must be a catalyst for an inclusive economic recovery. We must not divide the world. We must not allow the world to descend into another Cold War.”

The G20, which includes countries ranging from the US, Russia and Brazil to India, Saudi Arabia and Germany, accounts for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of international trade and 60% of the population.

On the eve of the summit, US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting where they pledged to increase communication despite their many differences.

The meeting was the first in-person meeting between the two since Biden became president, and seemed to improve relations after a downward spiral in recent months.

Xi and Putin have grown closer in recent years and reaffirmed their partnership just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, China has been careful not to provide any direct material support that could trigger Western sanctions against it.

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Xi told French President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting on Tuesday that China supports a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks, Chinese state media reported.

Macron said it was crucial for France and China to cooperate more closely to overcome the consequences of the war in Ukraine, his office said, adding that the two leaders agreed on the urgent need to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine and reaffirmed their position on the use of nuclear weapons.

During their meeting on Monday, Biden and Xi “underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” the White House said.

Xi told Biden that nuclear weapons cannot be used and nuclear wars cannot be fought, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The West has accused Russia of irresponsible statements about the possible use of nuclear weapons since its invasion of Ukraine. Russia, in turn, accused the West of “provocative” nuclear rhetoric.

Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy, Stanley Widianto, Nandita Bose, Leika Kihara, David Lawder and Simon Lewis in Nusa Dua, Andreas Rinke in Berlin, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Written by Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Edited by Robert Birsel and Tom Hogue

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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