• Sunday, March 26, 2023


India hosts G20 foreign ministers amid growing rift between Russia & West over Ukraine

India’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar speaks at the Forum for Nationalist Thinkers-Hyderabad Chapter on India’s G20 presidency, in Hyderabad, Telangana, on Sunday, February 26, 2023. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Foreign ministers of G20 major economies will meet in New Delhi on Wednesday (1) and Thursday (2) to deliberate on pressing global challenges amid escalating confrontation between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict that entered the second year this week.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, France’s Catherine Colonna, Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang, Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and British foreign secretary James Cleverly are among those attending the India-hosted meeting.

However, Japanese media reported that Japan’s foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is unlikely to attend due to his “scheduling conflict” with the parliament session.

Hayashi’s visit was seen as important in the backdrop of a plan to have a foreign ministerial meeting of the Quad countries on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.

People familiar with the visits of the top G20 foreign ministers said India’s external affairs ministers S Jaishankar is likely to hold a series of bilateral talks on Wednesday including with his counterparts from Russia and China.

The G20 foreign ministers meeting is taking place days after a gathering of finance ministers and the Central Bank Governors of the G20 member countries in Bengaluru failed to come out with a joint communique over sharp differences between the Western powers and Russia-China combine over the Ukraine conflict.

European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell Fontelles, Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajan, Australia’s Penny Wong, Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi and Argentinian foreign minister Santiago Cafiero are also among those attending the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting.

Ahead of Borrell’s visit, the EU said the High Representative will convey a strong message on Russia’s “blatant violation” of international law and the UN Charter, and its global consequences, in particular on energy and food insecurity.

The 27-nation EU has been playing a key role in pushing punitive sanctions against Russia as well as to extend all possible support to Ukraine including military assistance.

A number of foreign ministers of non-G20 countries including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are also attending the meet following India’s invitation as guests.

While the visiting dignitaries will be welcomed at a gala reception on March 1, the crucial deliberations on various challenges will be held on March 2 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre (RBCC) at the Raisina Hills, people familiar with the agenda of the meeting said.

The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting is expected to deliberate on multilateralism, food and energy security and development cooperation, counter-terrorism, new and emerging threats, global skill mapping and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The foreign ministers are also likely to discuss ways to deal with falling economic growth, increasing inflation, lower demands for goods and services as well as increasing prices of food, fuel and fertilisers.

However, the major flashpoint between the West and the Russia-China combine is expected to be on the Ukraine conflict even as India is set to make all out efforts for a joint statement following the crucial meeting.

Russia on Sunday (26) alleged that the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Bengaluru ended without a joint communique because of the “confrontational” approach towards Moscow by the “collective West” over the situation in Ukraine.

The G20 meeting of finance ministers and Central Bank governors on Saturday was unable to come out with a joint communique following opposition by Russia and China on making any references to the war in Ukraine.

A chair’s summary was issued by India at the end of the meeting in its capacity as the holder of the G20 presidency.

The Russian foreign ministry, in a statement, referred to “the constructive role” of the Indian presidency and its efforts to have”fair consideration of interests and positions of all countries”.

“Our opponents, primarily the United States, the EU and the G7, continue their paranoid attempts to isolate Russia and shift the blame for the provoked problems in the area of international security and the global economy onto it,” it alleged.

India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion and has been pushing for a resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

Besides participating in the G20 meeting, a number of foreign ministers are set to take part in the Raisina Dialogue, India’s annual conference on geo-politics and geo-economics.

The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies.

The members represent around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

The grouping comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union.


Related Stories