Updated Nov 16, 2022 - World

G20 statement: "Most members" condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the G20. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

BALI, Indonesia — The G20 group of world powers agreed to a joint communiqué at the close of their summit in Indonesia this week that states that "most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine," but "there were other views" as well.

Why it matters: The G20 includes the U.S. and its allies in Europe and Asia who have condemned and sanctioned Russia, as well as countries like China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa that have been reluctant to do so. Russia itself is also a member.

  • This meant that while the war and its effects on the global economy and food security were near the top of the agenda in Bali, a full agreement was never going to be possible. Energy ministers from the G20 countries failed to even produce a joint statement during a gathering in September for that reason.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who stood in for President Vladimir Putin at the summit, accused Western countries of trying to “politicize” the communiqué by demanding an explicit condemnation of Russia.

In the end, the statement denounced any threats of the use of nuclear weapons, an implicit rebuke of Putin's recent nuclear warnings, and said "today’s era must not be of war."

  • But it noted that while "most members" condemned the war in Ukraine and the "immense human suffering" it had caused, there were also "different assessments of the situation and sanctions."

Between the lines: Divisions within the G20 over Russia's war in Ukraine could easily have made this G20 the first in the summit's history to fail to produce a joint declaration, said John Kirton, director of G20 research at the Toronto-based Global Governance Program.  

  • The traditional G20 family photo this year was canceled for the first time in G20 history because numerous leaders refused to have their photo taken with any representative from Russia, Kirton told Axios.
  • It only became clear on Monday evening, when a draft communique was finalized, that there was sufficient consensus among G20 leaders to produce a joint statement.
  • But in the end, most countries were willing to publicly condemn the invasion. "It was really only Russia that would have been happy without a communique, because they could have said, look, no one condemned us," Kirton said.

Worth noting: The line about not allowing this to be an era of war echoed a previous statement Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made to Putin. India played a key role in brokering a compromise over the Ukraine language, per the FT.

The big picture: The full text of the communiqué is 17 pages long and covers topics including climate change, food security, and the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

Editor’s note: This piece was corrected to show the communique was 17 pages, not 1,186 pages.

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