Finance ministers of the world’s largest economies have failed to agree on a closing statement following a summit in India, after China refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Beijing declined to accept parts of a G20 statement that deplored Russia’s aggression “in the strongest terms”.
Moscow said “anti-Russian” Western countries had “destabilised” the G20.
It comes after China this week published a plan to end the conflict that was viewed by some as pro-Russian.
India, which hosted this week’s G20 talks in the southern city of Bengaluru, issued a wide-ranging “chair’s summary” from the meeting, noting there were “different assessments of the situation” in Ukraine, and on sanctions imposed on Russia.
A footnote said that two paragraphs summarising the war were “agreed to by all member countries except Russia and China”. The paragraphs were adapted from the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration in November, and criticised “in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.
After taking a back seat since the invasion a year ago, Beijing has stepped up its diplomacy efforts surrounding the conflict in recent weeks. Its top diplomat Wang Yi toured Europe this week, culminating in a warm welcome by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
China also this week published a 12-point plan for ending the war in Ukraine, in which it called for peace talks and respect for national sovereignty. However, the 12-point document did not specifically say that Russia must withdraw its troops from Ukraine, and did not condemn Russia’s invasion.
The Chinese document was welcomed by Russia, prompting US President Joe Biden to comment: “[President] Putin’s applauding it, so how could it be any good?”
After the G20 meeting, Ajay Seth, a senior Indian official, said in a press conference that Russian and Chinese representatives did not agree to the wording on Ukraine because “their mandate is to deal with economic and financial issues”.
“On the other hand, all the other 18 countries felt that the war has got implications for the global economy” and needed to be mentioned, he added.
The 17-paragraph summary of the summit also referenced the recent earthquake in Turkey, debt in low- and middle-income countries, global tax policy, and food insecurity.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it regretted the fact that “the activities of the G20 continue to be destabilised by the Western collective and used in an anti-Russian… way”.
It accused the United States, European Union and G7 nations of “clear blackmail”, urging them to “acknowledge the objective realities of a multipolar world”.
But German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said: “This is a war. And this war has a cause, has one cause, and that is Russia and Vladimir Putin. That must be expressed clearly at this G20 finance meeting.”
Previous meetings of G20 members have also failed to produce a joint statement since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly in New York overwhelmingly backed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The motion was backed by 141 nations with 32 abstaining and seven – including Russia – voting against.
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