According to a draft obtained by BenarNews, most leaders of the Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia are expected to issue a summit statement condemning the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the focus of the two-day gathering that began Tuesday on the Indonesian island of Bali. The conflict, which is now in its ninth month, has put severe strain on the global economy, leading to rising energy and food prices.
The war in Ukraine has also created divisions among members of the G-20 – the world’s 20 largest economies – with countries like the US, UK and other Western powers harshly criticizing Russia, and others like India, Saudi Arabia and China. refrain from doing so.
But summit attendees appeared to be rallying around the statement, which reads: “Most members have strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in the global economy.”
The draft, which has yet to be signed, acknowledges differing views among the G-20, noting that “there were different views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.” The contents of the draft, viewed by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated news organization, were confirmed by a European diplomat, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
However, it remained unclear whether Russia would agree to the wording. While US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are in Bali, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is not there and is instead being represented by his top diplomat Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov was scheduled to address a press conference later Tuesday. In a video circulated by his ministry on Monday, he said: “We will adopt the final declaration tomorrow.” However, he explained that negotiations on the final document are ongoing.
U.S. President Joe Biden, left, walks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo during the G-20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, Pool)
At the start of the summit, the host, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, called on leaders to bridge “very deep, very big differences”.
“We have no other options. A collaborative paradigm is urgently needed to save the world,” he said.
The Indonesian President said that as leaders of the group, which makes up more than 60 percent of the world’s population, “we all have responsibilities.”
“Being in charge here also means we have to end the war,” said Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, adding that leaders “must not allow the world to go into another cold war.”
Charles Michel, the President of the EU Council, said concerns about the war, economic recovery and rivalry between great powers made the summit “one of the most difficult ever”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was invited by Yokovi to attend the summit, even though Ukraine is not a member of the G-20.
Wearing his familiar army-green T-shirt, Zelenskyy addressed the gathering in Ukrainian for about 20 minutes via video link. Lavrov was among the audience.
The President used the term “G-19” three times during his address, apparently without Russia.
Zelenskyy presented “a number of solutions that need to be implemented,” including securing nuclear facilities and extending a United Nations-Turkey-brokered grain deal that expires in a few days to allow food exports from Ukraine, which is an important one global food are providers. He also called for the release of all prisoners and deportees.
“Nobody has the right to blackmail the world with a nuclear disaster,” he said at the summit, urging, “Please use all your strength to get Russia to abandon the nuclear threat.”
In this photo provided by the Press Office of the President of Ukraine and posted to Facebook, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seen during his visit to Kherson, Ukraine, on Monday, November 14, 2022. (Press Office of the President of Ukraine via AP, file)
Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – has been occupied by Russian forces since March and damaged by Russian shelling. Ukrainian workers are practically held captive there.
Implementation of his proposals “will save thousands of lives,” Zelenskyy said.
“It will restore the validity of international law,” he said. “It will restore global stability.”
Zelenskyy’s proposals “hopefully will help convince countries that are still on the fence,” said Yurii Poita, a policy analyst at the Kyiv-based think tank New Geopolitics Research Network.
To date, India, China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia have not directly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian leadership is grateful for US diplomatic efforts in favor of Ukraine, but I don’t think Ukraine expects too much from the summit,” Poita said.
“They try to use every opportunity to improve other countries’ understanding of the war.”
“Zelenskyj wants to explain that supporting Ukraine means being on the right side of history,” the analyst said.
Xi-Biden meeting shows positive signs
The Russian foreign minister will hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of the summit, where he is expected to present Moscow’s position.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Tuesday. During the meeting, Wang told Lavrov that China rejects calls to expel Russia from the G-20 and other international forums, RIA Novosti reported.
Lavrov also welcomed Xi’s re-election as Chinese Communist Party leader and hoped for continuity in his approaches to cooperation with Russia, RIA Novosti said.
There is no publicly announced plan for a “family photo” of the G-20 leaders, apparently to avoid possible unease about the presence of the Russian representative.
But analysts say a fence-building meeting between Xi and Biden in Bali on Monday pointed to China’s opposition to the threat of nuclear war from Russia.
“President Biden and President Xi reiterated their agreement that nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won, and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” the White House said after the meeting between the two both leaders.
Beijing is an ally of Moscow and has so far insisted on “neutrality” on the war in Ukraine.
“While that particular line did not appear on the official Chinese ad, the fact that the White House ad clearly stated that both leaders reiterated that statement was significant and a critical red-line message to Putin,” said Patricia Kim of John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.