According to the German press agency dpa, despite initial opposition from Russia, Western countries have succeeded in including a passage in the draft that condemns Moscow’s war against Ukraine.
Hours before Michel held his press conference, diplomats had already said that Russia was willing to tolerate the taking of the passage. Moreover, Russia’s attack on neighboring Ukraine is described in that passage as a war and not as “a special military operation”, which Moscow itself calls the invasion.
The fact that the Russians agreed to the draft is seen as a potential sign that Moscow has now also lost the support of its powerful ally China within the G20 on the Ukraine issue.
“One of the hardest ever”
The twenty best of the world’s top 20 economies are overshadowed on Tuesday and Wednesday by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the biggest absentee and is represented by his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
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Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said in his speech that this G20 is one of the most difficult ever. “I would first like to congratulate President Joko Widodo for his wise leadership and the fact that we have reached agreement on a draft declaration is an achievement in itself.”
According to Michel, the purpose of the meeting is to maintain and defend global relations, but it takes place in a very different world to the former G20. “Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the G20, is attacking the free and independent nation of Ukraine. Russia’s war affects all of us wherever we live, from Europe, Africa to the Middle East. And the best way to end it acute food and energy crisis on is for Russia to end this senseless war and respect the UN Charter.” According to Michel, the Kremlin has turned food into a weapon.
The host requested flexibility for Russia
A joint final statement was considered unlikely, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo was nevertheless keen on it. He would have asked Western countries to show flexibility and scale back their criticism of Russia, hoping to increase the chances of such a final statement.
After Michel’s speech, Widodo officially opened the G20 summit on Tuesday. He immediately warned of the risk of a “new world war”.
“We all have a responsibility, not only to our own people, but to all the people of the world,” Widodo said at the opening ceremony of the gathering. “Being responsible also means ending the war. We must not divide the world into different camps. We must not plunge the world into another world war,” said the president of the host country, adding that the summit must succeed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky then said in a video address to G20 participants that “it’s time” to end Russia’s “devastating” war. He also proposed a full prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.
Addressing what he called the “G19,” apparently excluding Moscow, the Ukrainian leader once again condemned Russia’s “insane threats to use nuclear weapons” and reiterated that there is “no excuse for nuclear blackmail.”
In addition, Zelensky reportedly called for an indefinite extension of the Ukrainian grain export agreement, which expires on Friday. Our grain export initiative deserves an unlimited extension, regardless of when the war ends. According to him, the agreement reached in July under the mediation of Turkey should also be extended to two other Ukrainian ports.
French President Emmanuel Macron, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit, urged him to try to convince Vladimir Putin to return to the “negotiating table” in the Ukraine conflict. The Elysée reported it. The French president has “asked China to help (…) convey messages to President Putin to help prevent further escalation,” Paris said.