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Debate over Ukraine war dominates G20 summit of major economies

Debate over Ukraine war dominates G20 summit of major economies
  • Draft Declaration: ‘Most’ G20 Members Condemn Ukraine War
  • Ukraine’s Zelensky pushes his plan to end conflict
  • Indonesia calls for an end to political polarization
  • Inflation, debt and monetary policy are also on the agenda
  • US President Biden skips dinner on Bali Island

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 15 (Reuters) – A Western-led campaign to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominated Tuesday’s G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, as leaders of major economies grappled with a dizzying array of issues from hunger to nuclear threats.

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24 decimated the global economy and revived Cold War-era geopolitical divisions just as the world was emerging from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As in other recent international forums, the United States and its allies have been seeking a statement from the two-day G-20 summit against Moscow’s military actions.

But Russia, whose forces have bombed cities and energy facilities across Ukraine even during the G20 meeting, said the summit’s “politicization” was unfair.

“Yes, there is a war going on in Ukraine, a mixed war that the West has launched and has been preparing for years,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, repeating Putin’s position that the expansion of the NATO military alliance has threatened Russia.

A 16-page draft declaration seen by Reuters and which diplomats said leaders had not yet adopted, acknowledged the disagreement.

“Most of the members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it causes enormous human suffering and exacerbates existing fragility in the global economy,” she added.

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“There were different views and assessments of the situation and the sanctions,” he added.

The 20 countries account for more than 80% of the world’s GDP, 75% of international trade and 60% of their population.

‘Save the world’

The hosts called on Indonesia to unite and focus on problems such as inflation, hunger and high energy prices, all of which have been exacerbated by the war.

“We have no other choice, and cooperation is required to save the world,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“The G-20 should be the catalyst for a comprehensive economic recovery. We must not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war.”

The draft summit document also said that the G20 central banks would adjust monetary tightening with a focus on the global problem of inflation, while fiscal stimulus should be “temporary and targeted” to help the weak while not raising prices.

With regard to debt, it expressed concern about the “deteriorating” situation of some middle-income countries, and stressed the importance of fair burden-sharing by all creditors.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the summit in a virtual speech that it was time to implement the 10-point peace plan he had proposed. Kyiv demands a complete Russian withdrawal from the occupied territories.

Zelensky called for restoring “radiological safety” at Russia’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, price restrictions on Russia’s energy resources, and an expanded grain export initiative.

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A US official said Washington wanted a clear message from the G-20 against the Russian invasion and its impact on the global economy, while German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said there were encouraging signs of consensus that war was unacceptable.

Lavrov said that he listened to Zelensky’s speech. He accused him of prolonging the conflict and ignoring Western advice.

Russia said Putin was too busy to attend the summit.

Fourth, between the United States and China?

However, there was an encouraging sign on the eve of the summit, when US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose countries are increasingly far apart, met and pledged more frequent contacts.

Both men declared their opposition to the use of nuclear weapons, according to readings from both sides.

Russia said it reserves the right to use any means, including nuclear capability, to defend its security.

China and Russia are close, but Beijing has been careful not to provide any direct material support to the Ukraine war that could lead to Western sanctions against it.

Chinese state media reported that Xi told French President Emmanuel Macron during another bilateral meeting that Beijing called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks.

Civil society groups have criticized the G-20 draft declaration for failing to take action on hunger, not boosting efforts to finance development, and ignoring a previous commitment to provide $100 billion in climate finance by 2023.

“The G-20 is just repeating old commitments from previous years or noting developments elsewhere, rather than taking the lead themselves,” said Frederic Rueder of Global Citizen. “Fifty million people are on the brink of starvation as we speak. There is no time for the G-20 to issue calls to action – they are the ones who have to act.”

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Leaders mingled at a dinner on Tuesday evening, many of them wearing traditional Indonesian batik shirts. Host Widodo sarcastically said he hoped the food wouldn’t be too spicy for foreigners.

But Biden missed the meal. “It’s been a long day and he has other things to take care of,” a White House official said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has expressed concern for the health of other world leaders – including Biden – after a positive COVID-19 test forced him to go home early.

(Reporting by Francesca Nangue, Stanley Widianto, Nandita Boss, Lika Kihara, David Lauder, Simon Lewis in Nusa Dua, Andrea Shalal in Washington, Andreas Renke in Berlin, Lydia Kelly in Melbourne and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Tom Hogg and John Powell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.