India had to walk a diplomatic tightrope on November 16 in agreeing to a joint leaders’ declaration at the G20 summit in Bali that strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and its adverse effect on the global economy and supply chains but refrained from explicitly naming Russia.
India, which took over the G20 presidency from Indonesia and will host the 2023 summit of the grouping, wanted to ensure that it did not end up as a vertically split organisation on the Ukraine issue and seriously jeopardised the G20’s future and the next summit in Delhi.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo suggested a joint leaders’ declaration at the end of the summit to avoid division within the members as happened during earlier G20 meetings this year on Russia and the Ukraine war.
“This year, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine further adversely impact the global economy,” the 17-page declaration said.
It added, “There was a discussion on the issue. We reiterated our national positions as expressed in other fora, including the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, which in Resolution No ES-11/1 dated 2 March 2022, as adopted by majority vote (141 votes for, 5 against, 35 abstentions, 12 absent) deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.”
It said, “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and said it is causing immense human sufferings and exacerbating existing fragilities in global economy-constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chain, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risk."
Russia also agreed on the effect of the war on the global economy. But it squarely blames the West for it.
"Yes, there is a war going on in Ukraine, a hybrid war that the West has unleashed and been preparing for years," Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, repeating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s argument that NATO's expansion had threatened Russia.
The leaders’ declaration pointed out that there were other views and other assessments of the situation and sanctions.
It also said, recognising that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy.
At a brief ceremony later in Bali today Widodo handed over the G20 presidency to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the conclusion of the two-day summit.
Modi summed up the challenge that lies ahead as he said, “India is taking charge of the G-20 at a time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices, and the long-term ill-effects of the pandemic,” at the closing session of G-20 Summit.
The 19 countries in the G20 together with the European Union account for more than 80 percent of the world's gross domestic product, 75 percent of international trade and 60 percent of its population.
Widodo said the G20 members’ stance on the war in Ukraine was the “most debated” paragraph in the declaration.
“Until late midnight yesterday we discussed this, and at the end the Bali leaders’ declaration was agreed unanimously in consensus,” Widodo said.
“We agreed that the war has a negative impact on the global economy, and the global economic recovery will also not be achieved without any peace,” he added.
"There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions," he added.
Host Indonesia has pleaded for unity and a focus on problems like inflation, hunger, and high energy prices, all exacerbated by the war.
The western countries which were keenly pushing for a statement from the G20 condemning the Ukraine war realised that it cannot be agreed by all countries if India and China, the two close allies of Russia, were not on board.
The Indian prime minister’s remarks at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in September to Putin that this is not the era of war, was appreciated by the western countries who felt that even if India did not directly condemn the Russian president, it could agree with others on ill -effect of the war on the global economy.
Modi also called for leaders to find a way to return to the path of ceasefire and diplomacy in Ukraine—a stated position of India, in his opening remarks at the G20 summit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his meeting with his American counterpart on November 14, had expressed serious concerns about the Ukraine war and the global intervention to end it.
He had also expressed concerns about the use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war and said nukes should not be used in any conflict.
Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said Prime Minister Modi played a key role in the successful resolution of differences over the outcome document.
He added that the “particular global context” was reflected in the consensus document.
This morning the G7 grouping, composed of the most developed western economies—a core group within the G20—and the NATO held a meeting in Bali in the wake of reports that Russian missiles had allegedly killed two persons inside Poland’s territory near the Ukraine border.
The G7 nations include the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Britain, and Japan.
"We agreed to support Poland's investigation into the explosion," US President Joe Biden said."We're going to make sure we figure out exactly what happened... and then we're going to collectively determine our next step," he added.
"We're going to make sure we figure out exactly what happened... and then we're going to collectively determine our next step," he added.