Kyiv reacts to G-20 declaration on Ukraine-Russia War

September 11, 2023

Officials in Kyiv are voicing disappointment over a Group of 20 (G-20) declaration on the Ukraine-Russia War that avoids direct criticism of Moscow for its aggression.

Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Oleg Nikolenko posted his own mock-up of what he believed should have been the G-20’s language, writing on social media, “We are grateful to the partners who tried to include strong wording in the text. However, in terms of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, G20 has nothing to be proud of.”

The G-20 summit was held in India over the week. Unlike 2022 Summit in Bali, Indonesia that Volodymyr Zelensky attended, this year the Ukrainian President was not invited by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the past, India has abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions condemning Russia and refused to join the global coalition against Russia. And since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the Modi government has dramatically increased its purchase of Russian oil.

To that end, the G-20 joint declaration’s not rallying around Ukraine against Russia—without a single G-20 nation dissenting—is being viewed as a victory for Modi. 

During a news conference in Vietnam following the G-20, Biden defended the declaration, saying the war was not a wedge issue for most G-20 nations. 

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN that it was “very important that the G-20 spoke as one”—and Russia is part of the coalition.

Blinken did go on to assert, “If you were in the Russian seat, it’s pretty clear where the rest of the world stands.”

However, House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) said on the same network that this year’s declaration was “a major departure from last year and a real slap in the face to Zelensky as they’re conducting the counteroffensive.”

At the 2022 Summit in Bali, the declaration called out “aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” while noting objections from some members to this assessment.

According to some foreign policy analysts, the greater focus this year on growing concerns over China and both its military and economic influence—along with the West’s view of India, now the world’s most populous nation, as a potential counterweight to China—may have played an indirect role in the G-20’s outcome.

“It was not a direct factor but the West, especially the U.S., is conscious that China is effectively trying to create an alternative international order that is anti-Western,” says Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, South Asia practice head of Eurasia Group.

PHOTO: Biden with India Prime Minister Modi at G-20

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