How India was able to overcome acrimonious G20 differences around Ukraine

The unified proclamation that was made at the G20 summit in Delhi is being hailed as an important diplomatic victory for India.

Considering how fiercely split the group was over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just a few days earlier, it appeared that reaching an agreement on a common statement would be nearly difficult.

In the end, we had a declaration that received support from each and every nation that is a member of the G20. There was not even a single note of disagreement.

Even while key actors such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China were pleased with the outcome, Ukraine itself was dissatisfied with it. Ukraine was not represented at the summit.

How, then, did India succeed in bringing together nations that hold such drastically different perspectives on the situation in Ukraine?

The G20 expresses regret about the conflict in Ukraine but does not place blame on Russia.
While Ukraine fumes, Russia celebrates an unanticipated’milestone’ at the G20.
A careful reading of the proclamation as well as key happenings in geopolitics in the weeks leading up to the summit can provide some insight.

During the annual conference that takes place in August, the BRICs group, which now consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, came to the conclusion that it should include six more members.

The new members have strong relations to China. These include Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Although the expansion may not have had a direct impact on the conclusion of the G20 meeting, it is not a secret that the West has been apprehensive of China’s growing weight in recent years, particularly in the developing world. This is because China has become increasingly influential in recent years.

According to Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, head of the South Asia practice at Eurasia Group, “It was not a direct factor but the West, especially the United States, is conscious that China is effectively trying to create an alternative international order that is anti-Western.”

It is also not a secret that the West views India as a counterweight to China, and because of this, the West would have preferred that Delhi’s presidency conclude with a declaration rather than without one.

Therefore, there were multiple reasons why the Western world should assist India in reaching a consensus.

The conflict in Ukraine was the primary source of contention. The proclamation that the G20 made in Bali the year before called out “aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” while adding that several members had reservations to this appraisal of the situation.

It appeared unlikely that the West would agree to wording that was less strong than that which was used in Bali, and Russia also stated that it would not agree to a statement that blamed it for the war. Both of these factors made it hard for the West to agree to a statement.

There was a pressing need for a breakthrough, and India, which enjoys positive relations with both Moscow and the West, was in an excellent position to mediate such a breakthrough.

At the end of the day, the declaration had language that not only appeased Russia but also adequately accommodated Western nations.

“It should not have been a mystery that the West desired India to achieve diplomatic success. There was never a situation in which everything went perfectly. According to Angela Mancini, partner and head of Asia-Pacific markets at consultancy firm Control Risks, the United States and the Western nations “would not have signed onto a joint declaration if there were issues in the language on which they could not come to an agreement.”

Analysts consider the stance taken in Delhi to be more forgiving than the one that was taken in Bali. The position taken in Delhi refrained from criticizing Russia for the war. On the other hand, it did talk about the “human suffering and adverse repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine on global food and energy security.”

At the end of the day, it looked like the leaders of the United Kingdom, the United States, and France were in agreement with Russia that the proclamation was a successful consequence of the summit. However, the two camps arrived at contradictory meanings from the same set of words.

According to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, the declaration used “strong language” that highlighted the impact the war had on food prices and food security. Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, referred to the summit in Delhi as a watershed moment.

However, Ukraine has expressed its displeasure with the surprise deal by stating that the G20 has nothing to be proud of.

Prior to the meeting, another big worry was the debt problem that many developing countries are currently experiencing.

The argument that developed countries should provide more assistance to developing nations’ economies has been made by developing nations on a constant basis. These were already struggling before the pandemic, but the war has made their predicaments even more difficult. In December, the World Bank reported that the world’s poorest countries owed $62 billion in annual debt service to creditors, with China being responsible for paying out two-thirds of that amount.

Western officials have frequently used the term “predatory lending” to describe China’s lending policies; however, the Chinese government denies that this is the case.

China, which is in close alliance with Russia, had the ability to exercise its veto over the proclamation, but it chose not to. The country of China is not mentioned either directly or indirectly in the passage that discusses the debt crisis.

“On the matter of debt reduction, we did not observe any progress being made. Any criticism of loan procedures would have been construed as a move against China, according to Mr. Pal Chaudhari, who also makes this point.

The declaration acknowledged the issue and urged the G20 states to accelerate the implementation of the common framework (CF) that was agreed upon in 2020 in order to assist nations who are particularly vulnerable.

In the meantime, the group came to an agreement to triple the capacity of renewable energy sources by the year 2030, but it did not establish any substantial goals for reducing emissions, despite the fact that the G20 nations are responsible for approximately 80% of greenhouse gases.

Importantly, the proclamation did not include any targets for lowering the use of crude oil; instead, it concentrated on phasing out the use of coal. This omission is very noteworthy. Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world’s largest crude oil producers, would have been happy with this outcome. Even India and China have voiced their displeasure with the West’s “unrealistic” goals for reducing emissions, which they believe cannot be achieved.

It is quite evident that Delhi exerted a lot of effort to generate consensus, even if doing so required them to make significant concessions.

“Given the fact that it had to be a consensus document, it’s not surprising that some of the language was a bit muted in certain areas to reach that consensus,” says Ms. Mancini. “It’s not surprising that some of the language was a bit muted in certain areas to reach that consensus.”

The inclusion of the African Union in the G20 was a topic that brought everyone together even before the summit began.

It provided additional support for Delhi’s efforts to grant the developing nations of the Global South a greater voice on global platforms.

According to a negotiator working for the Russian government, this year’s G20 summit was “one of the most difficult summits” in the nearly quarter-century long history of the conference. “It took almost 20 days to agree on the declaration before the summit, and another five days here on the spot,” Svetlana Lukash told the Russian news agency Interfax. “Here on the spot,” she said.

It is not yet clear whether the G20 will unite developing countries with developed ones or further polarize the global community into two opposing factions.

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