The war in Ukraine derails the adoption of a joint communiqué

G20 finance ministers and central bankers ended meetings in India on Saturday without reaching a joint statement, due to differences with China over the war in Ukraine.

Meeting since Friday at Bangalore, the technology capital of India, the G20 Finance was trying to agree on solutions to the challenges posed by the global economy, in a context of war in Ukraine and rising inflation. India, which holds the presidency of the G20, published Saturday at the end of the meetings a “summary” of the discussions but no joint press release.

Two paragraphs disapproved by Russia and China

“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine” with “different assessments of the situation and sanctions,” the document said.

An annotation specifies that within the G20 only China and Russia did not approve two paragraphs about Ukraine.

The representatives of Russia and China did not sign the language on Ukraine, arguing that their role was to “deal with economic and financial issues”, a senior Indian official, Ajay Seth, told the press. Last year, at previous meetings of the G20 Finance under the Indonesian presidency, no joint communiqué could be drafted either.

China supports Moscow in the face of Western sanctions

In India, China wanted to tone down the language used about Ukraine in the G20 Finance joint statement, according to several officials familiar with the discussions interviewed by AFP on condition of anonymity. According to one of them, “China does not want to condemn the war” in Ukraine. Talks to agree on a term lasted until 2 a.m. Saturday, another official said. In vain. China has never publicly endorsed or criticized the offensive, but has repeatedly expressed support for Moscow in the face of Western sanctions.

In a statement in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the West of having “destabilized” the G20 Finance meetings. According to Moscow, the United States, the EU and the G7 have “disrupted the adoption of collective decisions” by trying to impose a “diktat” via “clear blackmail” so that their interpretation of the conflict in Ukraine appears in the joint statement. “The G20 must remain an economic forum rather than encroaching on the security sphere,” he added.

In Ukraine, “it is a war”

On Friday, Germany and France pleaded for the inclusion of the term “war” in the final communiqué of the G20 Finance.

In Ukraine, “it’s a war. And this war has one cause, one cause, and that’s Russia and [le président russe] Vladimir Putin,” said German Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

The French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire had supported the words of his German counterpart. “We will oppose any backsliding in the joint statement, compared to the declaration made in Bali on the subject of the war in Ukraine”, he had warned, during a press conference.

In November, the heads of state and leaders of the G20 countries met for a summit in Bali, Indonesia. Their final statement stated that “most members strongly condemned the war”.

The debt of the poorest countries on the agenda

For two days, the powers of the G20 also discussed in India the debt of the poorest countries. “It was a very good meeting. The Indian presidency has done a good job and focused on the issues that are really important,” International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told AFP.

In 2020, the G20 had agreed on a “common framework” for the restructuring of the debt of the poorest countries, but its implementation is slow. The discussions in Bangalore also discussed the supervision of cryptocurrencies, but also the reform of international financial institutions.

In October, the World Bank launched an initial roadmap, with the aim of better meeting the financing needs of developing countries, faced with the challenges posed by inflation, indebtedness and even climate change.

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