| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Most G20 nations condemn Russia for war, China silent

The heads of the world’s leading economies’ finance departments on Saturday sharply denounced Moscow for its war on Ukraine; only China and Russia itself declined to sign an united statement.

India, which was holding a summit in Bengaluru as chair of the Group of Twenty (G20) economies, was hesitant to bring up the war, but Western countries argued they could not support any decision that did not include a denunciation.

The lack of consensus among G20 members meant India resorted to issuing a “chair’s summary and outcome document” in which it simply summed up the two days of talks and noted disagreements.

“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy,” it said, citing disruption of supply chains, risks to financial stability and continuing energy and food insecurity.

“There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions,” it said, referring to measures put in place by the United States, European countries and others to punish Russia for the invasion and to starve it of revenues.

The outcome was similar to that of a G20 summit in Bali last November when host Indonesia also issued a final declaration acknowledging differences. The G20, formed over two decades to tackle economic crises, has increasingly struggled to reach the consensus needed to issue an official end-of-meeting communique.

“Although there was not what we would call a communique, but only an outcome statement, we still think we’ve made some progress in having all the ministers on board,” Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said China’s refusal to join the declaration was “regrettable”.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier told Reuters that 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 of the G7, refers to its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation”, and avoids calling it an invasion or war.

India has kept a largely neutral stance, declining to blame Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil.

China and India were among the nations that abstained on Thursday when U.N. voted overwhelmingly to demand Moscow withdraw its troops from Ukraine and stop fighting.

Along with the G7 nations, the G20 group also consists of nations like Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Brazil.

Russian invasion of Ukraine, which upends the foundations of the international order, is making it impossible for the G20 to have productive discussions, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told reporters.

  • Reuters