Russia claims victory at G20 summit amid Ukraine crisis

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has hailed the G20 summit in Delhi as a success, after Moscow was shielded from criticism over the Ukraine war in a joint declaration. “We were able to prevent the west’s attempts to Ukrainise the summit agenda,” Lavrov said as the two-day meeting drew to a close.

The final group statement said “all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition” without singling out Russia. The language on the invasion of Ukraine was noticeably softened, seemingly to appease China and Russia, omitting any condemnation of Moscow or reference to Russia’s aggressions, which was included in last year’s G20 joint statement signed in Bali.

Russia claims victory at G20 summit amid Ukraine crisis
Russia claims victory at G20 summit amid Ukraine crisis

Lavrov claimed it was a diplomatic win for Russia, saying the declaration “fully reflects our position”. He said he had not expected western countries to agree to the statement, after the Russian and Chinese delegations made it clear they no longer accepted the wording used to condemn the invasion of Ukraine at last year’s summit. “Perhaps it was the voice of their conscience,” Lavrov said. “Frankly speaking, we didn’t expect that. We were ready to defend our wording of the text.”

He said it was a sign that the global south would no longer blindly follow the western powers. “They don’t want to be told to follow the Zelenskiy formula,” Lavrov said, referring to the Ukrainian president. “This is disrespectful to developing countries. This is neo-colonialism from western countries and they have failed this time.”

Lavrov praised the role of India in the negotiations, claiming it had pushed back against attempts to “politicise” the G20. India has deep historical ties with Russia, which is its largest supplier of arms, and has remained firmly neutral on the Ukraine war. The Indian side turned down requests by other members for Ukraine to take part in this year’s G20 summit.

Kyiv slams G20 for lack of solidarity

Ukraine criticized the G20’s final declaration, with Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko writing on Facebook: “Ukraine is grateful to its partners who tried to include strong wording in the text. At the same time, the G20 has nothing to be proud of in the part about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Obviously, the participation of the Ukrainian side would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation. The principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains as key as ever.”

Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that despite weaker language than last year, the joint statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “speaks loudly”. “If you’re in the Russian seat, it’s pretty clear where the rest of the world stands,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

The US and EU countries, who have spent billions arming Ukraine against Russia and continue to condemn Russia for its aggression, insisted that the agreement was a step forward in pushing for peace in the region. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said on Sunday that the G20 summit had “sent a message of peace while Russia is still waging its war in Ukraine” and had “confirmed the isolation of Russia”.

Other issues discussed at G20 summit

The G20 summit also addressed other pressing global issues such as climate change, economic cooperation and Covid-19 pandemic. The leaders agreed to pursue and encourage efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally through existing targets and policies. They also endorsed a historic deal on global corporate tax reform and pledged to increase vaccine donations and production to end the pandemic.

The summit was attended by leaders from 19 countries and the European Union, as well as representatives from international organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The next G20 summit will be hosted by Indonesia in 2024.

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