Russia’s War on Ukraine Tears Rift at G20 Bali Summit

President Joe Biden is greeted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Monday, November 14, 2022, at the Apurva Kempinski in Bali, Indonesia. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) of the world’s largest economies began talks on Tuesday on the island of Bali, Indonesia, marred by divisions caused by the war in Ukraine.

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Leaders are set to issue a statement in which “most” members will strongly condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine, said a senior U.S. administration official in a briefing to reporters Tuesday morning.

“I think you’re going to see most members of the G-20 make clear that they condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, that they see Russia’s war in Ukraine as the root source of immense economic and humanitarian suffering in the world,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The statement, scheduled to be released at the end of the summit later this week, is designed to show that the group is isolating Russia, a member of the G-20, the official said. But it is unclear how many countries will be signing on.

While leaders primarily agree on the three pillars of G-20 priorities that Indonesia has pushed under its presidency — digital architecture, energy transition and digital transformation — the statement on Russia is the sticking point that makes a joint communique, or a declaration agreed by all parties at the end of the summit, appear unlikely, diplomatic sources tell VOA.

Biden, Xi, Not Putin Gather at G20 Bali Summit in Diplomatic Win for Host Indonesia

In opening remarks, before leaders began closed-door discussion, G-20 host Indonesian President Joko Widodo pleaded members to not allow divisions over Russia’s invasion on Ukraine derail their agenda for unity and economic recovery.

“We have no other option, collaboration is needed to save the world,” Widodo said, adding that members have a responsibility not just to their citizens but also the world.

“Responsibility means ending the war,” Widodo said.

“G20 must be the catalyst for inclusive economic recovery. We should not divide the world into parts,” he added. “We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war.”

Indonesia is not giving up on a communique, however. “We have to be optimistic, it’s still under process,” Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Technology Johnny G. Plate told reporters Tuesday.

In a possible veiled criticism on Moscow, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against the “weaponization” of food and energy.

“We must firmly oppose politicization, instrumentalization and weaponization of food and energy problems,” Xi said.

Zelenskyy’s plea

Addressing G-20 leaders virtually from Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy outlined a series of conditions needed to end the war Ukraine.

Under initial Western boycott threats to exclude Russian President Vladimir Putin, Widodo invited Zelenskyy even though Ukraine is not a member of the group.

Other non-member countries were invited as observers, including Spain, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Zelenskyy said Russia must reaffirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory and pay compensation for damage caused.

Putin is not attending the summit in person. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in the room when Zelenskyy spoke and later told reporters that Ukraine was refusing to engage in peace talks and proposing unrealistic peace conditions.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

VOA’s Iulia Yarmolenko, Paris Huang, Ahadian Utama and Chris Hannas contributed to this report. Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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