G20 fails to reach consensus on Russian-Ukrainian sources of war
By Sarita Chaganti Singh and Christian Kraemer
BENGALURU (Reuters) – G20 finance chiefs failed to reach consensus on how to describe the war in Ukraine and are likely to end a meeting in India on Saturday without a joint communiqué, delegates said.
The United States and its allies in the group of G7 nations have been adamant in demanding that the communiqué clearly condemn Russia for the invasion of its neighbor, which was opposed by the Russian and Chinese delegations, they said.
Russia, which is a member of the G20, describes its actions in Ukraine as a “military special operation” and avoids calling it an invasion or a war.
Host India is also pushing the meeting to avoid using the word “war” in a communiqué, G20 officials told Reuters. India, which currently holds the G20 presidency, has maintained a broadly neutral stance on the war, not blaming Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply increasing its purchases of Russian oil.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said there was no way the group could back down from a joint statement agreed at a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last November, which said “most members are at war.” sharply condemned in Ukraine”, but also recognized some countries saw the conflict differently.
“Either we have the same language or we don’t sign the final communiqué,” Le Maire told reporters on Friday.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on the fringes of the meeting on Friday that the G20 must not fall behind its previous criticism of Russia.
“We need absolute clarity, this is a war initiated by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he said.
Such deadlocks have become increasingly common in the G20, a forum created over 20 years ago in response to past economic crises but recently hampered by differences between Western nations and others, including China and Russia.
A senior G20 source said negotiations on the communiqué were difficult as Russia and China blocked proposals from Western countries. “India intends to abide by the Bali text,” the source said.
The source and several other officials said barring a last-minute surprise, consensus on the communiqué is unlikely and the meeting is likely to end with a statement from the host summarizing the discussions.
“In the absence of consensus, the option for India would be to issue a Chairperson’s Statement,” one of the officials said.
India’s foreign, finance and information ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Christian Kraemer, Shivangi Acharya, Aftab Ahmed and Sarita Chaganti Singh; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Kim Coghill)