G20 meeting ends in row as Russia and China refuse to condemn Ukraine war
A meeting of G20 finance ministers in Bengaluru ended in controversy after Russia and China refused to issue a statement condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and rejecting the use of nuclear weapons.
The meeting was interrupted on Saturday without reaching an agreement on the joint statement of the members’ finance ministers and central bank governors.
Instead, India, which holds the G20 presidency, issued a “Chairman’s Summary and Outcome Document”. It was endorsed by 17 of the group’s 20-member delegates, including the world’s largest developed and developing economies; Russia and China did not support it.
The document reiterates the position taken by G20 leaders at a summit in Bali last year, when they “in the strongest possible terms” condemned Russia’s war against Ukraine and demanded Russia’s “full and unconditional” withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.
The document also reiterated the Bali summit declaration that “the use or threat of nuclear weapons is impermissible.”
Ajay Seth of India’s finance ministry said the Russian and Chinese delegates, who did not attend the meeting in Bengaluru in person, argued that the war and its aftermath were beyond the mandate of finance ministers and central bank governors.
Other members “felt that the war had implications for the global economy, so it was right to create these paragraphs,” he said.
The disagreement over the statement highlights tensions within the G20 over members’ positions on the war.
According to the summary document, apart from Russia and China, “most” member states have strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, which they say is “causing enormous human suffering and exacerbating the existing fragility of the global economy.”
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman declined to say whether India was among the members condemning the war. On Thursday, India and China abstained from the UN General Assembly vote condemning the war. Russia voted against the UN resolution.
Sitharaman said India had signed the G20 leaders’ statement in Bali, from which the language of Saturday’s summary document was taken.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said it was regrettable that no agreement could be reached in the statement. “But it was more important to me that the others stick to a clear position on international law, multilateralism and the end of war,” Lindner said.
“It is increasingly difficult for the G20 to have a constructive debate over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is shaking the foundations of the global order,” Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki Suzuki told reporters in comments reported by Reuters.
Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said on Friday that France would not sign any statement that would back away from the Bali Declaration.
Further reporting by Reuters