Russia claims G20 “success” after softer Ukraine language

The G20 world leaders meeting in Delhi has ended without explicit condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
G20 Russia Ukraine

Russia has declared this year’s G20 summit in New Delhi, India a “success” after the joint leaders’ statement did not directly condemn its invasion of Ukraine.

A joint statement agreed to at the G20 Summit referred to “human suffering” caused by the war, but did not demand Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.

What is the G20?

The G20 is a meeting of 20 global economies. Member-states include the U.S., Russia, Brazil, China, and the EU. It has no formal powers, but joint statements agreed to by leaders can carry significant weight.

At this year’s summit, the African Union – a coalition of 55 member-states similar to the EU – was made a permanent member.

Each year, G20 leaders negotiate a joint declaration, which acts as a commitment to collective action on key issues.

What happened at the G20 meeting?

This year’s joint statement called on “all states” to respect territorial boundaries. It “highlighted the human suffering” caused by the war, without specifically blaming Russia.

The statement also called for grain exports out of Ukraine to resume with “immediate” effect. This is in reference to Russia’s recent decision to block Ukraine’s grain-carrying ships. However, it did not include condemnation of the war.

This year’s declaration signifies a shift in tone from last year’s statement, which demanded Russia’s “complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine” and stated that “most members strongly condemned” the war.

Ukraine is not a G20 member-state. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was invited to speak at last year’s summit in Indonesia, however.

Russian and Ukrainian response

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who attended in place of President Vladimir Putin, claimed Russia had prevented “the West’s attempts to ‘Ukrainise’ the summit agenda”, adding he had not expected Western leaders to agree.

A Ukrainian Government spokesperson said the joint statement was “nothing to be proud of”.

U.S. and Australian response

A U.S. Government spokesperson defended the joint statement. The spokesperson labelled it an “unprecedented” and “unified” call for Russia to “refrain from using force for territorial acquisition… and cease attacks on civilians”.

Anthony Albanese called it “the strongest statement that has ever been made [about Ukraine], which includes Russia”.

Climate change

The joint statement also reaffirmed commitment to the targets agreed at the 2015 Paris climate conference, to limit global warming to 2ºC and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5ºC. It has been criticised for not including an agreement to phase out fossil fuels.

The leaders, whose economies account for roughly three-quarters of global emissions, agreed to “urgently accelerate [their] actions” to address climate change. The world is not track to meet the Paris targets.

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