In a surprising diplomatic coup, India managed to secure a unanimous joint declaration at the G20 summit that delicately skirts direct criticism of Russia over its Ukraine actions. The achievement comes despite sharp divisions within the G20 nations and demonstrates India’s increasing clout in global diplomacy. The consensus not only pleased major powers like the US, UK, Russia, and China but also disappointed Ukraine, which was not represented at the summit.
by Emma Sullivan
The G20 Summit in Delhi seemed doomed for a diplomatic impasse just days before its commencement due to irreconcilable views on Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. However, the summit culminated in a joint declaration that won unanimous approval from all member nations, leaving no room for dissent. The declaration’s language satisfied Russia while still offering concessions to Western countries, thereby avoiding a divisive breakdown in international diplomacy.
The absence of Ukraine, which was not invited to the gathering, was keenly felt, but the summit’s outcome received praise from heavyweight nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China. This unanimous support begs the question: how did India, the summit’s host, manage to reconcile the sharply contrasting stances on Ukraine among G20 members?
Several factors contributed to this diplomatic balancing act. In the weeks leading up to the G20 Summit, the BRICS nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—expanded their group by adding six new countries: Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. All of these nations maintain strong relations with China. While the BRICS expansion may not have directly influenced the G20 outcome, it highlighted Western concerns about China’s growing influence, particularly in the Global South.
“The West is aware that China is working to establish an alternative international order that challenges Western hegemony,” commented Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, a leading South Asia expert at the Eurasia Group. He added that the West sees India as a counter to China’s rising power, thereby offering another reason for Western countries to facilitate a consensus.
The G20 declaration refrained from explicitly blaming Russia for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Instead, it acknowledged the “human suffering and adverse repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine on global food and energy security,” a compromise that received mixed interpretations. While UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised the document’s “strong language,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov deemed the summit a “milestone,” further emphasizing the chasm in interpretations.
The declaration also touched upon other pressing global issues. Developing countries, hamstrung by the debt crisis and the pandemic, have been clamoring for greater support from wealthier nations. While the declaration made no mention of China’s often-criticized lending practices, it urged G20 nations to enhance the implementation of a Common Framework agreed in 2020 to aid vulnerable economies.
The climate crisis was another focal point, although the group stopped short of setting ambitious goals on emission cuts. The agreement primarily focused on tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 and phasing out coal use, avoiding the thorny issue of crude oil consumption.
“One of the most difficult G20 summits” is how a Russian government negotiator described the gathering to Russian news agency Interfax. It took nearly a month of pre-summit negotiations and five intense days of deliberations to reach a final agreement.
It’s evident that India’s diplomatic prowess played a critical role in brokering this fragile consensus. “In order to reach a consensus, compromises were inevitable,” said Angela Mancini, partner and head of Asia-Pacific markets at consultancy firm Control Risks.
Only time will tell if this G20 Summit will set a precedent for bridging gaps between wealthy and developing nations, or if it merely masks deeper divisions that could cleave the world into disparate camps.
(Associated Medias) – All rights reserved