By: Pramod Thomas
THE year-long Russian war in Ukraine took centrestage on the eve of a G20 foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday (1) with the European Union foreign policy chief saying the success of the gathering in New Delhi would be measured by what it could do about the war and its impact.
Russia said it would use the meeting to tell the world who, according to Moscow, was responsible for the political and economic crises the world finds itself in.
The foreign ministers meeting comes days after a meeting of finance chiefs of G20 countries in Bengaluru which was also overshadowed by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Delegates at the Bengaluru meeting wrangled over condemning Russia for the war, failed to reach a consensus on a joint statement and settled instead for a summary document.
“This war has to be condemned,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, told reporters.
“I hope, I am sure that India’s diplomatic capacity will be used in order to make Russia understand that this war has to finish,” Borrell said.
A EU source separately said the EU delegation would not support a statement at the G20 meeting if it did not include condemnation of the war.
The comments came hours after Russia said it considers G20 a prestigious forum “where balanced consensus decisions should be made in the interests of all humankind”.
“We intend to firmly and openly talk about the reasons and instigators of the current serious problems in world politics and the global economy,” the Russian embassy in New Delhi said in a statement late on Tuesday (28).
“The destructive policy of the US and its allies has already put the world on the brink of a disaster, provoked a rollback in socio-economic development and seriously aggravated the situation of the poorest countries,” it said.
The New Delhi meeting is being attended by 40 delegations including Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang.
Lavrov arrived late on Tuesday and held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday. He is also scheduled to meet his Chinese, Bangladeshi and South African counterparts.
The main G20 meetings will be held on Thursday (2) after a welcome dinner on Wednesday.
G20 includes the wealthy G7 nations as well as Russia, China, India, Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, among other nations.
Host India said the war in Ukraine would be an important point of discussion but “questions relating to food, energy and fertiliser security, the impact that the conflict has on these economic challenges that we face” would also receive “due focus”.
Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra, the country’s top diplomat, said he also expected a clear message on terrorism. The role of crypto currencies will be a part of the message, he said.
Rising US-China tensions are also likely to feature at the foreign ministers’ meeting.