• Monday, October 02, 2023


Ukraine war, absence of Xi & Putin to take shine off India G20 summit? Experts fear it may

Analysts fear that if the summit fails, limits of cooperation between the western and non-western powers would be exposed.

India’s G20 logo is projected on the dome of illuminated tomb of Mughal king Humayun in Delhi. (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WHILE the Indian leadership is looking forward to hosting the first-ever G20 summit in the country on September 9 and 10 and hoping that the event will boost its stature in global affairs, deep divisions over Russia’s military adventurism in Ukraine threaten issues such as food security, debt distress and global cooperation on climate change when the world’s most powerful countries meet in New Delhi.

As nations have hardened their stances on the war in the east European nation, agreement on a single communique at the several ministerial meetings of the grouping that took place under India’s presidency this year have hit roadblocks, leaving it to the leaders to look for possible ways out.

The situation has also been made worse by the absence of top world leaders such Chinese president Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as it suggests that neither of the two key nations is likely to join any agreement.

Absence of the top leaders of China and Russia at the two-day summit implies that it will be dominated by the west and its allies. Among the top leaders who will be present at the summit are, among others, US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, British prime minister Rishi Sunak and Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida.

China will be represented by its premier Li Qiang and Russia by its foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who was also Moscow’s face at the recently held BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa as Putin took part virtually after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Analysts fear that if the summit fails, limits of cooperation between the western and non-western powers would be exposed and make countries focus on groups that they are comfortable with, the Reuters report added.

Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, US, is said breaking off into western and non-western blocs is not something desirable when it comes to tackling global threats.

He also said that if the leader’s summit fails to deliver, both India and prime minister Narendra Modi would suffer a major diplomatic and political setback.

The stakes are high for the host nation which has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It would either have to convince the bloc to agree to a joint statement or become the first since 2008 to see its presidency of the bloc ending without such a communique.

Officials in the host nation are not too confident either. A senior government official told Reuters that both Russia and China have toughened their positions since the 2022 G20 summit in Bali in Indonesia.

Another government official said that Indonesian president Joko Widodo succeeded in bagging a last-minute joint statement from the bloc and India is also hoping for the same to happen this time.

Another official told Reuters that while Russia and China were “more flexible” during the Bali summit, countries today “are not agreeing even to the language used in the Bali Declaration”.

“Xi’s absence may be Beijing’s attempt to put a nail in the G20’s coffin, only weeks after expanding the BRICS organization which is more aligned with China’s world view,” David Boling, director at US-based consulting firm Eurasia Group, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Lavrov said last week that Russia will block the final declaration of the G20 summit if it doesn’t reflect Moscow’s position on Kyiv and other issues. Diplomats feel it is highly unlikely that Moscow’s stance will be accepted, and the summit could end up issuing a non-binding or partial communique.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who is travelling to India for the summit, said he was disappointed that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was not invited and told the latter in a call that they would be speaking strongly for the war-ravaged nation and ensure that the world is standing with it.

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