The war in Ukraine dominates the G20 meeting in Bali
The G20 summit opened on Tuesday in Bali, Indonesia. Although the invasion of Ukraine is not on the official agenda, it dominates the meeting as Westerners attempt to present a united front against Russia, conspicuous by the absence of President Vladimir Putin.
He again pleaded his case. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged G20 leaders meeting in Indonesia on Tuesday (November 15th) to overcome divisions to end a “devastating” war waged by Russia and which Westerners are trying to increase pressure on.
The most important meeting of world leaders since the start of the pandemic opened without Vladimir Putin in the tropical setting of the Indonesian island of Bali. It is the first summit in nearly nine months since the start of a deadly war that has had dire economic consequences for the planet and is a nuclear threat.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who returned from Kherson in southern Ukraine, a city just captured by his army, was one of the first to speak via video conference with what he called the G19, excluding Russia. The head of Russian diplomacy, represented by Vladimir Putin, Sergey Lavrov was in the room.
“I am convinced that now is the time to stop Russia’s destructive war,” the Ukrainian president said in his now-familiar khaki shirt. It “must and can be stopped,” according to an English translation consulted by AFP.
He detailed his plan to bring peace and “save thousands of lives”: distrust Russia, tolerate “no pretext for nuclear blackmail” in the face of Moscow’s “crazy threats” and carry out a general prisoner exchange.
Facing the leaders of southern countries hit hard by the economic fallout from the conflict, he proposed extending “indefinitely” a deal allowing grain from Ukraine, a major agricultural exporter. A deal negotiated in July under Turkish auspices that made possible the supply of nearly 10 million tonnes of grain expires on Friday, prompting Moscow to question its intentions and raise fears of a famine at the UN.
For a joint press release?
The invasion of Ukraine is not on the official agenda of the G20, but it dominates the meeting, so it worries and also deepens the rift between Westerners who support Kiev and other countries, including China, which refuses to condemn Moscow.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the host of the event, called for an “end to the war” in his opening speech: “We must not divide the world into several camps. We must not allow the world to enter a new cold war.”
In a sign of rifts within the G20, the club of major world economies originally created to agree on financial issues, Indonesia, which hosted the summit, warned that a traditional joint press release with every comma was not worth waiting for. A hot topic of conversation so as not to disturb anyone.
European Council President Charles Michel said that an agreement on the general text was reached at the negotiators’ level on Monday evening. According to a draft document seen by AFP, major G20 economies, including Moscow, are seeing the negative consequences of the Russian-led “war in Ukraine”. “Most members” “strongly condemn” the conflict, the text added.
If accepted by the leaders, the document would use the term “war”, which Moscow has so far rejected, leading to a “special military operation”. He considers the use or threat of nuclear weapons “unacceptable” and calls for an extension of the grain export agreement.
“I think you will find that the majority of G20 members will make it clear that they condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and that they see Russia as the root cause of the great economic and humanitarian suffering in the world,” the US official said. on condition of anonymity.
Macron appealed to China
All eyes are on superpower China, whose president Xi Jinping has drawn closer to Vladimir Putin on the eve of war, creating a common front against what he describes as the hegemonic will of the West. Beijing refuses to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, and rejects Western sanctions.
During a meeting with Chinese leader Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday morning, Xi asked Xi Jinping to intervene to “persuade him to return to the negotiating table” with the Kremlin boss, according to Elysée.
The French president called on his Chinese counterpart to “join forces” against the war in Ukraine, emphasizing that the world’s “stability” is also in China’s “interests”.
“It is necessary to join forces to respond to the main international challenges, you mentioned only one of the climate and certainly the most important one, but also international crises such as the war started by Russia in Ukraine. It is a suitable format,” he said at the G20 summit in Bali. he said at the beginning of the bilateral meeting.
China has not condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which began on February 24, and like many southern countries, including Indonesia, has refrained from criticizing Moscow, including at the G20 summit.
The G20 is expected to issue a statement in which the “majority” of the group will strongly condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but a senior US official said on Tuesday.
Faced with the Russian threat, many of them want to strengthen their military capabilities, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Bali to announce the order for five battle frigates under the name of “threat”.
During his first face-to-face meeting with Xi Jinping since his election, US President Joe Biden on Monday got his Chinese counterpart to agree to reject any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.