Division at G20 over bid to condemn Russia’s Ukraine invasion

  • Most G20 members could strongly condemn the Ukraine war
  • Zelenskiy urges G20 to help end war under his plan
  • Indonesia urges action on global economic problems
  • China’s Xi to hold meetings with several other leaders

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Disagreement emerged at a Group of 20 (G20) summit on Tuesday as the United States and its allies backed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russia’s foreign minister dismissed as unwarranted politicisation.

The summit on the Indonesian island of Bali is the first G20 leaders’ meeting since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine in February.

The war, which Russia has described as a “special military operation”, has overshadowed the meeting despite calls from host Indonesia for unity and a focus on action to resolve global economic problems like inflation, and food and energy security.

“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,” a 16-page draft declaration said, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

“There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions,” said the draft, which diplomats said had yet to be adopted by the leaders.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is heading his country’s delegation in the absence of President Vladimir Putin, denounced the attempt to condemn Russia as politicization by Western countries that had tried unsuccessfully to include it in the declaration.

Lavrov said Russia had put forward an alternative view and the draft would be completed on Wednesday.

A US official said earlier the United States expected the G20 to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there were encouraging signs of a consensus that Russia’s war against Ukraine was not acceptable.

G20 ministers’ gatherings in the past have failed to produce joint declarations due to disagreement between Russia and other members on language, including on how to describe the war in Ukraine.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the summit in a virtual address that now was the time to stop Russia’s war in his country under a plan he has proposed “justly and on the basis of the UN Charter and international law”.

He called for restoring “radiation safety” with regard to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, introducing price restrictions on Russian energy resources, and expanding a grain export initiative.

“Please choose your path for leadership – and together we will surely implement the peace formula,” he said.

Lavrov, who dismissed a news agency report on Monday that he had been taken to hospital in Bali with a heart condition, said he had listened to Zelenskiy’s address, adding that the Ukrainian leader was dragging out the conflict and not listening to Western advice.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered calls by some Western leaders for a boycott of the summit and for the withdrawal of Putin’s invitation but Indonesia refused to do so.

Russia said earlier Putin was too busy to attend the summit and Lavrov was taking his place.

‘SAVE THE WORLD’

The summit opened with a plea by Indonesian President Joko Widodo for unity and concrete action to mend the global economy despite deep rifts over the war.

“We have no other option, collaboration is needed to save the world,” he said. “G20 must be the catalyst for inclusive economic recovery. We should not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war.”

The G20, which includes countries ranging from the United States, Russia and Brazil to India, Saudi Arabia and Germany, accounts for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of international trade and 60% of its population.

On the eve of the summit, US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held bilateral talks meeting in which they pledged more frequent communication despite many differences.

The meeting was the first the two had in person since Biden became president and it appeared to signal an improvement in relations after a downward spiral in recent months.

Xi and Putin have grown increasingly close in recent years, and reaffirmed their partnership just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. Nevertheless China has been careful not to provide any direct material support that could trigger Western sanctions against it.

On Tuesday, Xi told French President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting that China advocated a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks, Chinese state media reported.

Macron said it was crucial for France and China to cooperate more closely to overcome the consequences of the war in Ukraine, his office said, adding that the two leaders had agreed it was urgent to de-escalate the Ukraine conflict and reaffirmed their position on preventing the use of nuclear weapons.

On Monday, Biden and Xi “underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine” during their meeting, the White House said.

Xi told Biden nuclear weapons cannot be used and nuclear wars cannot be fought, the Chinese foreign minister said in a statement.

The West has accused Russia of making irresponsible statements on the possible use of nuclear weapons since its invasion of Ukraine. Russia has in turn accused the West of “provocative” nuclear rhetoric.

Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy, Stanley Widianto, Nandita Bose, Leika Kihara, David Lawder and Simon Lewis in Nusa Dua, Andreas Rinke in Berlin, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Writing by Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Robert Birsel and Tom Hogue

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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