Wrangling over Ukraine war dominates summit of G20 major economies

  • Draft declaration: ‘majority’ of G20 members condemn war in Ukraine
  • Ukraine’s Zelenskiy is pushing his plan to end the conflict
  • Indonesia wants to end political polarization
  • Inflation, debt, monetary policy are also on the agenda
  • The President of the United States Biden does not have a big dinner on the island of Bali

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 15 (Reuters) – There was a Western-led push to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of Tuesday’s Group of 20 (G20) summit on the Indonesian island of Bali where the leaders of the major economies grapple with a series of issues arising from hunger to nuclear threats.

President Vladimir Putin’s February 24 invasion of neighboring Ukraine has pumped up the global economy and revived Cold War-era geopolitical divisions just as the world was emerging from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other recent international forums, the United States and its allies were seeking a statement from the two-day G20 summit against Moscow’s military actions.

But Russia, whose forces were shelling cities and energy facilities across Ukraine even as the G20 met, said the “politicization” of the summit was unfair.

“Yes, there is a war going on in Ukraine, a hybrid war unleashed by the West and being prepared for many years,” said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, repeating Putin’s line that the expansion of the NATO military alliance was a threat to Russia .

A 16-page draft declaration seen by Reuters, which diplomats said had not yet been adopted by leaders, acknowledged the split.

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“Most members condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing enormous human suffering and exacerbating the vulnerabilities of the global economy,” he said.

“There were other opinions and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”

The 20 nations account for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of international trade and 60% of its population.

‘SAVE THE WORLD’

Host Indonesia pleaded for unity and focus on problems such as inflation, hunger and high energy prices, all exacerbated by the war.

“We have no other choice, cooperation is needed to save the world,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“The G20 must be a catalyst for a comprehensive economic recovery. We must not divide the world into parts. We cannot allow the world to fall into another Cold War.”

The draft summit document also said G20 central banks would calibrate monetary tightening in anticipation of the global inflation problem, and fiscal stimulus should be “temporary and targeted” to help vulnerable people and not raise prices.

On debt, he expressed concern about the “deteriorating situation” in some middle-income countries and stressed the importance of a fair burden sharing by all creditors.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said at the summit in a virtual speech that it was time to implement a 10-point peace plan he has proposed. Kyiv is demanding Russia’s complete withdrawal from occupied territories.

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Zelenskiy called for the restoration of “radiation safety” at the Russian-owned Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, price restrictions on Russian energy resources, and an expanded grain export initiative.

A US official said Washington wanted a clear G20 message against Russia’s invasion and its influence on the global economy, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there were encouraging signs of consensus that war was unacceptable.

Lavrov said he listened to Zelenskiy’s address. He accused him of prolonging the conflict and ignoring Western advice.

Russia said Putin was too busy to attend the summit.

US-CHINA RAPPROCHEMENT?

There was an encouraging sign on the eve of the summit, however, when US President Joe Biden and increasingly estranged Chinese leader Xi Jinping met and pledged more frequent communication.

Both men said they were against the use of nuclear weapons, according to readings from both sides.

Russia has said it reserves the right to use any means including nuclear capability to protect its security.

China and Russia are close, but Beijing has been careful not to provide any direct material support for the war in Ukraine that could provoke Western sanctions against it.

Xi told French President Emmanuel Macron during another bilateral meeting that Beijing proposed a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks, Chinese state media reported.

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Civil society groups blasted the draft G20 declaration for failing to take action on hunger, not strengthening efforts to finance development, and losing sight of an earlier pledge to provide $100 billion in climate finance by 2023.

“The G20 is just repeating old promises from previous years or noting developments elsewhere, rather than taking leadership themselves,” said Friederike Roder of the Global Citizen group. “Fifty million people are on the brink of starvation as we speak. There is no time for the G20 to issue calls to action – they must act.”

Among the leaders at a prestigious dinner on Tuesday evening, many of them were wearing traditional Indonesian batik shirts. The host Widodo said he hoped the food was not too spicy for foreigners.

Biden missed the meal, however. “It’s been a long day and he has other things he needs to attend to,” a White House official said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed concern about the health of other world leaders – including Biden – after a positive COVID-19 test forced him to return home early.

Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy, Stanley Widianto, Nandita Bose, Leika Kihara, David Lawder and Simon Lewis in Nusa Dua, Andrea Shalal in Washington, Andreas Rinke in Berlin, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Andrew Cawthorne; edited by Tom Hogue and Jon Boyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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