India G20 talks hampered by deep divisions over Ukraine - Dispatch Weekly

March 3, 2023 - Reading time: 5 minutes

​Russia’s war in Ukraine has dominated G20 discussions, with hosts India claiming that there will be no common statement as a result of the heated confrontations.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, claimed that Russia’s “unprovoked and unlawful war” had ruined the conference.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, accused the West of “blackmail and threats.”

India claimed that the disagreements over Ukraine “could not be addressed,” preventing it from concentrating on other concerns affecting developing countries.

The divide between the nations was too great, the foreign minister of India, S. Jaishankar, remarked.

The G20, which consists of the European Union and the world’s 19 richest countries, generates 85% of the world’s economic output and is responsible for two-thirds of its population.

The group’s foreign ministers, including Mr Lavrov of Russia, Mr Blinken of the US, and Qin Gang of China, were gathering in Delhi under the leadership of India. Since the battle started a year ago, the senior American and Russian officials have not really spoken to one another.

The West will support Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” Mr. Blinken assured Mr. Lavrov during their brief encounter on the margins, according to a senior state department official. Also, Mr. Blinken urged Russia to adhere to the conditions of the New Start nuclear weapons control deal, from which it has just withdrawn.

Officials from Russia denied that any talks had taken place. Russia had already claimed that the West had “buried” a deal to enable some grain exports from Ukraine, but the US retaliated by claiming that Moscow was impeding Ukrainian exports.

Russian authorities said that Beijing and Moscow had reached an understanding to reject what they referred to as Western extortion and threats, but China hasn’t verified this.

“We talk about how to act. Well, people in the West have really messed up with these,” Mr. Lavrov said this after the talks on Thursday. “They no longer care about being diplomatic. All they do now is blackmail and threaten everyone else.”

In his opening remarks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that conflicts throughout the world were endangering sustainable development.

He stated: “Many emerging nations are battling with unmanageable debts while attempting to secure food and energy security. They are also most impacted by global warming brought on by wealthier nations.”

Mr. Modi delivered his speech in English for the first time, which shows how seriously he wanted his point to be taken. Although he avoided directly mentioning the conflict in Ukraine, he did recognise that geopolitical concerns would influence the conversations.

Sessions on terrorism, food security, development cooperation, and humanitarian aid were all on Thursday’s agenda, reflecting India’s goals while holding the G20 chair.

An ex-Indian diplomat told attending media before the discussions that India would need to “do something unique” to persuade participants to set aside their concerns regarding the conflict. It was anticipated that India’s ability to form a consensus would be put to the test by tense relations between the US and China, which has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion.

After Thursday’s discussions, foreign Minister Jaishankar was forced to deliver what is known as a chair’s summary, indicating that participants were unable to come to an agreement on a statement. The only nations who refused to agree to denounce the war were Russia and China.

However Mr. Jaishankar noted that “on the majority of topics we were able to get an outcome paper,” indicating that India was successful in achieving its primary goal of speaking up for the Global South.

Before the G20 leaders convene in September, there are still a few months for diplomacy, and Delhi will be hoping that its presidency doesn’t come to a disappointing end.

According to experts, Delhi also had to delicately strike a balance between its non-aligned stance on the conflict and appeals to other countries to find ways to cooperate.

India has withstood pressure and kept up its policy of not publicly criticising Russia, the country’s top arms supplier. Iran often abstains from casting a vote on UN resolutions denouncing the conflict in Ukraine, most recently last week during the UN General Assembly.

Additionally, it has defended its choice to expand its Russian oil imports by claiming that it must take care of its populace’s necessities.

The UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states have all been mentioned in previous remarks the EU has made regarding Ukraine.

DW Staff

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