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G20 'consensus' declaration calls for peace, but refuses to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine

by Daria Shulzhenko September 9, 2023 5:43 PM 3 min read
U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photograph during the G20 summit in New Delhi on Sept. 9, 2023. (Photo by: Narendra Modi/Twitter)
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The Group of 20 summit in New Delhi adopted a "consensus" declaration on Sept. 9 that called on countries not to use force to seize territory but fell short of condemning Russia for its war in Ukraine.

Reuters reported that the consensus "came as a surprise" as the group has different views on Russia’s war in Ukraine, with Western nations "pushing for strong condemnation" of Russia while other countries demanding "a focus on broader economic issues."

The declaration, announced earlier by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calls on the states "to uphold the principles of international law, including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability."

"The peaceful resolution of conflicts and efforts to address crises as well as diplomacy and dialogue are critical," reads the declaration.

"We will unite in our endeavor to address the adverse impact of the war on the global economy and welcome all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine that will uphold all the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter for the promotion of peaceful, friendly, and good neighborly relations among nations in the spirit of 'One Earth, One Family, One Future'."

In response to the G20 declaration, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko wrote on Facebook that even though Ukraine is grateful to its partners who "tried to include strong wording in the text," the Group of 20 "has nothing to be proud of" regarding its stance on Russia's aggression against Ukraine.  

"It is obvious that the participation of the Ukrainian side would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation. The principle of 'nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine' remains as key as ever," Nikolenko wrote.

In his post on Facebook, he also attached an edited version of an excerpt of the declaration in which certain words have been crossed out and rewritten to show how the text could have "better reflected reality."

The G20 summit brought together the leaders of the world's largest economies for a two-day meeting on Sept. 9-10. For the past 20 years of summits, the G20 has culminated in a leaders' declaration, expressing commitments to joint priorities.

The newly adopted declaration also called for the "full, timely, and effective implementation" of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that Moscow withdrew from earlier in July, causing spikes in wheat prices and fears about food security worldwide.

It also "expressed deep concerns" about the war's adverse impact on civilians' security, as well as called for the "cessation of military destruction or other attacks" on food and security infrastructure.

"Today’s era must not be of war," the declaration says.

On Sept. 8, Reuters reported that negotiators at the G20 summit had left the paragraph on Ukraine blank in the leaders' draft declaration due to unresolved disagreements.

According to a draft seen by the media, the paragraph relating to Ukraine and the "geopolitical situation" was left blank, while 75 others on topics ranging from climate change to cryptocurrency had been agreed upon by members.

Modi, who hosted this year's G20 summit, has not imposed sanctions against Russia for its war in Ukraine. He has said he does not want the invasion of Ukraine to dominate the meeting, which is intended to highlight the needs of the Global South.

Modi did not invite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend the summit.

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