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G20 Summit 2023: Is Russia-Ukraine war becoming a major hurdle for leaders' joint declaration?

Russia has already threatened of blocking the G20 declaration if it does not reflect Moscow's position on the Ukraine conflict.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee New Delhi Updated on: September 08, 2023 14:19 IST
The G20 Summit will be held in New Delhi on September 9 and
Image Source : PTI The G20 Summit will be held in New Delhi on September 9 and 10.

G20 Summit 2023: As the much-anticipated G20 Summit will commence soon in New Delhi, leaders of the group are still divided over the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and its bearings on the G20 leaders' declaration. The situation has arisen due to the condemnation of Russia primarily by Western countries after it launched an invasion into Ukraine last year.

India maintains a neutral position on the conflict, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioning to Russian President Vladimir Putin that "this is not an era of war" in previous instances. However, the Ukraine conflict will remain a key focus point of the G20 Summit despite the absence of Putin in Delhi.

Earlier today, European Council President Charles Michel said that negotiations are still ongoing over differences of world leaders regarding the Ukraine conflict, while strongly condemning Moscow for violating international norms and attacking innocent civilians. He also said that the European Union stands "united and firm" in supporting Ukraine and placing sanctions on Russia.

Why are G20 leaders divided?

Russia and its ally China do not want a mention of the former's war with Ukraine on the G20 leaders' declaration proposed by the leaders at the end of the high-level summit. However, the European Union (EU) and other Western countries want Russia to be labelled as an aggressor and call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

As per sources, several Western countries have also opted for Russia to be excluded from the G20 bloc. The polarisation over Russia-Ukraine war puts additional pressure on India as the host country is tasked with the responsbility to decide the agenda and build consensus among leaders.

"We have been working all day and all night for a joint statement. In that we bring a spirit of compromise to a lot of the different issues that are contentious so that we can find a text that everybody can live with," said US national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday.

However, Russia has already warned of blocking the G20 declaration if it does not reflect Moscow's position on the Ukraine conflict and other issues. If a compromise fails to break through, the tensions between Moscow and the West are likely to rise further. 

Earlier, US’ National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby also pointed out the possibility that there might not be a joint declaration after the G20 Summit as Russia and the West continue to spar over the Ukraine war. Despite such geopolitical disputes, India has insisted that a final declaration is within reach.

The G20 leaders are also likely to discuss Putin's contentious decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain initiative, which has driven up food prices and affected African nations in terms of food security and supply.

German Ambassador to India, Philipp Ackermann, told ANI that he was hopeful of a win-win situation for everyone, which highlight the difficulty of the task. "I hope for a Declaration that is win-win for everyone. I hope there will be a Declaration that reflects the reality in which we work right now. It is a difficult task but I am confident with it," he said.

The Russia-Ukraine war

Thousands of people have been killed in the Russia-Ukraine war that has spanned over 18 months with both sides showing no signs of relenting. The war has deepened Russia's tensions with the United States, as the latter continues to provide economic and military support to Kyiv.

In the latest show of support, Washington has announced a $600 million security assistance package to Ukraine that includes artillery rounds and equipment for electronic warfare and artillery munitions. Since the beginning of the war, US has condemned Moscow and imposed a series of harsh sanctions on the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be absent from the G20 Summit in New Delhi as the country is not an official member of the group.

(with agency inputs)

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