Leaders of the G20 the group consisting of the world’s economies have reached a last-minute agreement on the Ukraine section of their summit statement to prevent a complete breakdown of the document. The main challenge during weeks of negotiations was how to address the conflict in Eastern Europe without alienating Russia, one of the bloc’s members. Eventually, a compromise was achieved by incorporating language proposed by officials from India (the host nation) as well as representatives from Brazil and South Africa.
The major breakthrough came with the formulation that all countries should “avoid taking actions that undermine the integrity, sovereignty or political independence of any state.” This wording was not present in the Bali declaration made by the G20 and was deemed acceptable to Russia since it did not explicitly condemn Moscow’s aggressive actions against Ukraine. Furthermore using terms like “deplore” or “condemn” in relation to Russia’s actions the final text refers to the “war in Ukraine” without directly assigning blame, to Moscow.
G20 refrains from accusing Russia
The decision to refrain from accusing Russia was made with the aim of preserving unity on concepts related to war and peace which were not as explicitly endorsed in the Bali declaration. The primary focus of the G20 is on economics and finance but during multilateral gatherings Western leaders, especially U.S. President Joe Biden have taken the opportunity to express their support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion 18 months ago.
Although the text on policy was finalized in advance negotiations regarding the section on Ukraine continued until Saturday morning just before the summit began. Russia consistently objected to versions of the text that favoured Ukraine and proposed alternative language criticizing Western-imposed sanctions. As the host country India facilitated discussions between Russia and other G20 members until a consensus was reached.
The final wording on Ukraine drew inspiration from principles outlined in the United Nations Charter. Received positive feedback from both Western nations and Russia. Western officials argued that this version from New Delhi was an improvement over the Bali statement because it reflected sentiment within the G20 while indirectly addressing Russia’s aggressive actions. However, some expressed reservations with an EU official noting that if solely written by the EU the document would have appeared differently.
The spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry expressed gratitude to its partners who made an effort to include language in the statement. However, they also mentioned that the G20 should not take pride in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Ultimately the leaders of the G20 emphasized that this summit had a focus compared to previous ones. They highlighted their dedication to addressing the war in Ukraine and rallying nations against aggression. The revised statement represents a compromise that allows for unity within the G20 while acknowledging the conflict, in Eastern Europe.