Lack Of Consensus on Ukraine at G20 Meet in India

The third assembly of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) in Gandhinagar concluded last week with a Chair Summary and Outcome Document due to the absence of a consensus on the “language” to be used in a communique concerning the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As the host country, India faced challenges in reconciling differing views, particularly regarding the characterization of the conflict as a “war.”

Following the two-day meeting, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the media, explaining, “We have issued a chair statement because we have not yet arrived at a common language regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We are bound by the language agreed upon at the Bali Leaders’ Summit and cannot unilaterally change it. Consequently, the final decision on this matter will be left to the leaders during the G20 Leaders’ Summit scheduled for September. We deemed it inappropriate to make alterations without proper authorization.”

As the host country, India struggled to find a consensus among the participating nations, as some insisted on categorizing the Ukraine conflict as a “war” and demanded that it be mentioned as such in the final communique.

Indian officials emphasized that the Russia-Ukraine conflict lay beyond the purview of the G20. Sitharaman noted, “While there was agreement on several issues, there was a need for more time to determine the appropriate language to use.”

During the discussions, numerous G20 nations also expressed condemnation of Russia’s decision to suspend a critical deal that permitted the export of grain from Ukraine by sea. Sitharaman further elaborated, stating, “Several members voiced their disapproval and raised concerns about the disruption of food shipments through the Black Sea.”

The Outcome Document and Chair Summary released after the G20 meeting conveyed the following, “A majority of members strongly condemned the ongoing war in Ukraine and emphasized its devastating impact on human lives, exacerbation of global economic vulnerabilities, hampering of growth, rise in inflation, disruption of supply chains, escalation of energy and food insecurity, and elevation of risks to financial stability. While differing opinions and assessments of the situation and the implementation of sanctions were expressed, it was acknowledged that the G20 is not the appropriate platform for resolving security issues. Nonetheless, the assembly recognized that security concerns can have significant ramifications for the global economy.”

On July 16, Janet Yellen, United States Secretary of the Treasury, pledged “equivocal support for Ukraine”, saying “Another key priority this week is to redouble our support to Ukraine as it continues to defend itself against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked attack… Ending this war is first and foremost a moral imperative and the single best thing we can do for the global economy.”

The FMCBG meeting concluded with a Chair Summary and Outcome Document comprising 26 paragraphs and two annexures. “We ended with a rich Chair Summary which reflects the deliberations held during the meeting and conveys the wide support that the Indian G20 Presidency received for various deliverables envisaged for 2023,” Sitharaman said.

The Outcome Document released after the meeting emphasized the condemnation of the war and its far-reaching consequences on human suffering, global economy, and various aspects of international stability. The matter is now set to be discussed at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September, where the leaders will have the authority to make the final decision on the language used in addressing the Russia-Ukraine conflict. While recognizing the limitations of the G20 in resolving security matters, it was acknowledged that such issues could have significant implications for the global economy.

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