G20 leaders concluded their summit condemning Russia despite divisions

G20 leaders concluded their summit condemning Russia despite divisions

Members of the Group of 20 major economies ended their summit on Wednesday with a firm condemnation of the war in Ukraine and a warning that the conflict is worsening an already sensitive global economy.

The summit's closing statement was noteworthy because world leaders were able to highlight the condemnation of the war despite divisions among the group, which includes not only Russia but also countries such as China and India that have

Significant trade relations with Moscow stopped open criticism of the war.

"Most of the members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it causes enormous human suffering and exacerbates existing fragility in the global economy," the statement said.

The use of the phrase "most members" was a clear sign of divisions, as well as an acknowledgment that "there are other opinions and different assessments" and that the G20 "is not a forum for resolving security problems."

However, the statement's use of language from a March UN resolution denouncing "in the strongest terms the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine" and demanding its "complete and unconditional withdrawal" from Ukrainian territory was a "significant breakthrough," according to John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Group.

"Here, the G-20 left no doubt about who they know started the war and how it should end," he said in an interview. He noted an "active shift" on the part of China and India, which have joined the "democratic side of the immediate great geopolitical divide."

Conflict in Ukraine overshadowed the two-day summit held on the tropical island of Bali in Indonesia. Early Wednesday, an explosion rocking eastern Poland prompted US President Joe Biden to hastily arrange an emergency meeting with the Group of Seven and NATO members at the summit. Biden said it was "unlikely" that Russia fired the missile but added, "I will make sure to find out exactly what happened."

The president of Poland and NATO said later on Wednesday that the missile strike appeared to have been unintended and likely carried out by air defenses in Ukraine while Russia was bombing the country in an attack on its power grid. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky disputed the initial findings and demanded further investigation. Russia denied involvement.

Biden was joined at the G20 summit by leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend.

On Tuesday, Russia bombarded Ukrainian cities with dozens of missile strikes in its most significant attack yet on the country's energy facilities, which have been repeatedly bombed as winter approaches.

Sunak, speaking to reporters after the meeting, called the attacks "the harsh and uncompromising reality of Putin's war."

"While other world leaders have been working together to address the greatest challenges our people face, Putin has been launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Ukraine," Sunak said.

He added that the war "will continue to devastate the global economy."

The careful wording of the G20 final statement reflected the tensions at the meeting and the challenge the United States and its allies face as they try to isolate Putin's government. Many G20 members, including host Indonesia, are concerned about being embroiled in conflicts between major powers.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters that the part of the declaration dealing with the war was the most controversial part of the negotiations and that the discussions were "challenging."

Some saw the end product as a powerful rebuke to a war that killed thousands, increased global security tensions, and disrupted the global economy.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the "surprisingly clear words" of the G-20 summit on Ukraine "could not have been achieved if the important countries had not helped us come together in this way - including India and also including, for example, South Africa."

"This shows that many in the world do not believe this war is right and condemn it, even if they abstain from voting at the United Nations for various reasons," Schultz said. "And I am sure this is one of the summit's results: the Russian president stands almost alone in the world with his policy."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who headed the Russian delegation in Putin's place, denounced the Biden administration's efforts to condemn Moscow.

Some were surprised by China's support for a public statement critical of Russia.

Analyst Kirton said Beijing likely did so because Chinese President Xi Jinping "did not want to support a loser" after Russia's defeat in the Ukrainian city of Kherson. China is now facing" from climate change to the pandemic to the country's "financial fragility to over-leveraged housing and property markets." "

The G20 was established in 1999 as a forum to address economic challenges. It includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Spain has a permanent guest seat.

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