Most G20 countries condemn Russia to war, China is silent
By Aftab Ahmed, Shivangi Acharya and Sarita Chaganti Singh
BENGALURU, India (Reuters) – The financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies on Saturday harshly condemned Moscow for its war on Ukraine, with only China and Russia themselves declining to sign a joint statement.
India, which hosted a meeting in the city of Bengaluru as leader of the Group of Twenty (G20) economies, was reluctant to raise the issue of the war, but Western nations insisted they could not support an outcome that did not include condemnation.
The lack of consensus among G20 members led India to resort to issuing a “Presidency Summary and Outcome Document” in which it simply summarized the two-day talks and noted disagreements.
“Most members have strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, emphasizing that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in the global economy,” she said, citing the disruption to supply chains, risks to financial stability and the ongoing energy and energy crisis food insecurity.
“There were different views and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions,” it said, citing actions by the United States, European countries and others to punish Russia for the invasion and relieve it of revenue.
The outcome was similar to that of a G20 summit in Bali last November, when host Indonesia also issued a final statement acknowledging differences. The G20, formed over two decades to deal with economic crises, is increasingly struggling to achieve the consensus needed to release an official communiqué to conclude the meeting.
“Although there was no so-called communiqué, just a statement of outcome, we still believe we have made some progress in getting all ministers on board,” said Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said China’s refusal to go along with the statement was “regrettable”.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously told Reuters it was “absolutely necessary” for any statement to condemn Russia. Two delegates told Reuters that Russia and China did not want the G20 platform to be used to discuss political matters.
Russia, a member of the G20 but not the G7, describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” and avoids calling it an invasion or a war.
India has maintained a broadly neutral stance, not blaming Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply increasing its purchases of Russian oil.
China and India were among nations to abstain on Thursday when the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to demand Moscow withdraw its troops from Ukraine and end fighting.
In addition to the G7 countries, the G20 bloc also includes countries such as Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
“It is becoming difficult for the G20 to hold constructive discussions because Russia has invaded Ukraine, which is an act that shakes the foundations of the global order,” Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told reporters.
On the sidelines, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held a meeting with the World Bank, China, India, Saudi Arabia and the G7 on Saturday on restructuring debt for troubled economies, but there were disagreements among members there too, the executive director said of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva.
“We have just finished a session where it became clear that there is an obligation to bridge differences for the good of countries,” Georgieva, who co-chaired the roundtable with India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, told reporters.
A delegate told Reuters that some initial progress had been made, mainly on language surrounding the issue, but the reorganization was not discussed in detail.
Yellen said there were no “results” from the meeting, which was mainly organizational in nature.
Further talks are planned around the spring meeting of the IMF and World Bank in April.
Pressure has been building on China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor, and other nations to take large haircuts on loans extended to struggling developing countries.
In a video address before the G20 meeting on Friday, Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun reiterated Beijing’s position that the World Bank and other multilateral development banks should also participate in debt relief through debt cuts.
India’s push for tighter regulation of private crypto assets drew broader support at the meeting.
Georgieva said policymakers should “not take the option of full bans off the table” if regulation fails. Yellen did not support such bans but said it was crucial to put in place a strong regulatory framework.
(Additional reporting by Leika Kihara, Christian Kraemer, and David Lawder; writing by Mark John and Raju Gopalakrishnan; editing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry, and Alexander Smith)