Unexpected G20 Consensus on Ukraine at New Delhi Summit
During the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, a consensus declaration was adopted by the Group of 20 leaders. Surprisingly, the declaration did not explicitly condemn Russia for its actions in Ukraine but instead called on all states to refrain from using force to acquire territory.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement of the adoption of the Leaders' Declaration during the summit's opening day, attended by prominent leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden and heads of government from various nations.
This consensus was unexpected, as the G20 had deep divisions regarding the conflict in Ukraine. Western nations had initially pushed for a strong condemnation of Russia in the declaration, while others urged a focus on broader economic issues.
The declaration emphasized the importance of upholding international principles, including territorial integrity, sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that promotes peace and stability. It also expressed support for initiatives that aim to achieve a comprehensive and just peace in Ukraine and unequivocally stated that the use or threat of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.
Ukraine's foreign ministry expressed disappointment in the declaration, believing that Ukrainian participation could have provided better insights into the situation. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz viewed the declaration as a clear stance against Russia's invasion, emphasizing the inviolability of a country's territorial integrity.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised the declaration for its strong language regarding Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Russia, represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, did not immediately respond to the declaration. Lavrov had previously indicated that he would block the final declaration if it did not align with Moscow's stance on Ukraine and other crises.
The 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia has resulted in significant casualties, displacement of millions, and global economic turmoil. Russia maintains that it conducted a "special operation" to "demilitarize" Ukraine and denies committing atrocities during the conflict.
The declaration also called for the implementation of the Black Sea initiative to ensure the safe flow of grain, food, and fertilizer between Ukraine and Russia. However, Moscow had withdrawn from the agreement in July, citing a failure to meet its demands related to food and fertilizer exports.
India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar reported that China, Russia's primary ally, supported the outcome of the declaration. Despite differing viewpoints and interests, the G20 members were able to find common ground on all issues.
The declaration also addressed debt vulnerabilities in low and middle-income countries without proposing a new action plan. It committed to strengthening and reforming multilateral development banks and endorsed tighter regulation of cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, it recognized the need for $4 trillion in annual low-cost financing for the global energy transition, emphasizing a shift towards renewable energy sources.
The statement called for an accelerated "phasedown of unabated coal power," with consideration of national circumstances and support for just transitions.
The G20 summit in New Delhi was accompanied by extensive security measures, with significant portions of the city closed, including businesses, offices, and schools. Leaders arrived at a newly constructed convention center called Bharat Mandapam. During the summit, Modi proposed granting permanent membership to the African Union to enhance the group's representation.
Although the Leaders' Declaration reached a compromise, the summit was expected to focus on Western and allied perspectives. Notably, Chinese President Xi Jinping did not attend and instead sent Premier Li Qiang. Russia's Vladimir Putin was also absent. U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer speculated that China might be shifting its focus away from the G20 in favor of groups like BRICS, where it holds a dominant position.
BRICS, composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has plans to expand its membership to include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates, aiming to reshape the existing world order.