Group of 20 (G20) finance ministers failed on February 25 to reach a consensus on a joint communique on the global economy, but they issued a statement at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in India that strongly condemns Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Only China and Russia declined to agree to a final unanimous declaration after the ministers met in India, which currently chairs the grouping of 20 major world economies.
The lack of consensus at the end of the meeting in Bengaluru left India with the option of issuing a “chair’s summary” that said “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy.”
But it also said that there were “other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.” A footnote said the two paragraphs in the summary about the war “were agreed to by all member countries except Russia and China.”
Western nations had insisted that they could not back any joint statement that did not include a condemnation of the war in Ukraine. They also had insisted that the language in any joint statement could not be weaker than the final declaration issued by G20 leaders in Indonesia in November.
“This is a war. And this war has a cause, has one cause, and that is Russia and Vladimir Putin. That must be expressed clearly at this G20 finance meeting,” German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told a news conference on February 24.
Senior Indian official Ajay Seth said the Chinese and Russian representatives did not want to endorse the wording on Ukraine because “their mandate is to deal with economic and financial issues.”
Seth told a closing news conference that the other 18 countries “felt that the war has got implications for the global economy” and it needed to be mentioned.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on February 25 issued a statement saying Russia regrets “that the activities of the G20 continue to be destabilized by the Western collective and used in an anti-Russian…way.”
China has sought to position itself as neutral on the conflict while maintaining close ties with Russia. The United States has warned it against providing Russia with lethal aid.
Beijing published a 12-point paper on February 24, calling for a cease-fire and a “political settlement” to the war, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed in part, though presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak rejected it.
The G20 document issued at the end of the finance ministers’ meeting said the global economic outlook had “modestly improved,” although overall growth remains slow and risks persist, including elevated inflation, a resurgence of the pandemic, and high debts in many poorer nations.
It also stressed the importance of meeting the commitment made by developed countries to mobilize $100 billion in climate finance annually through 2025 for poorer countries. The ministers also focused on debt relief for poorer countries. (Radio Free Europe)