The G20 scores a point


Ludovic Marin / AFP / Getty Images

New Delhi hosted another G20 summit on September 9–10. All G20 leaders were invited to it, as well as the heads of nine other countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, Netherlands, Spain, UAE, Oman and Singapore. This is, so to speak, the potential for expansion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not come to India. Russian delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Kremlin boss (through his press secretary) explained his absence by a heavy workload inside the country, including in connection with the special military operation. There was also no video message to the summit participants.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping also did not visit New Delhi, sending Prime Minister Li Keqiang to the meeting. Unlike his Russian counterpart, «Comrade Xi» did not explain his decision. «Old Joe» was especially grieved. The US President had hoped to have a personal meeting with him.

This has given rise to a lot of versions in the Western media. Here, in my opinion, is the most plausible one: the Chinese President recently had a thorough conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the BRICS summit in South Africa. It was not an easy one. They seemed to have agreed to start the process of demarcating the border in the disputed areas of the Himalayas. The process has not yet started.

In addition, Chinese intelligence agencies have warned him that India will try to use its role as host of the summit to promote its own agenda and damage China’s interests.

As for Biden, a separate signal was sent to him. China objected to the G20 summit in the United States in 2026. This objection was also supported by Russia.

Biden, for his part, announced in New Delhi (in a nod to China’s New Silk Road) the launch of a massive infrastructure project that aims to link Europe, Asia and the Middle East with a network of railroads and sea routes. This single transport corridor will be used for trade, transportation of energy resources and improved digital connectivity. It will connect India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, and the European Union. No specific timeline for its implementation has been given. Working groups are to draw up a detailed roadmap of dates and costs within two months.

After the announcement, the White House master ended his participation in the summit early and left India.

Against this background, the Western media speculated that Russia and China are losing interest in the G20, having successfully developed their own initiative — BRICS, where the problems of the global economy are discussed without Western countries. «G20», they say, has turned into a continuation of the «G7» with the dominance of the collective West led by the United States. They are uncomfortable there. This is also because the Anglo-Saxons are trying to turn the forum, which was conceived as a purely economic forum, into a geopolitical mechanism.

There may be some truth to these assessments, but Moscow and Beijing are unlikely to refuse to participate in the G20. The potential of this association is still quite high, and the «tug-of-war» will surely continue.

As for Prime Minister Modi, he did his best to raise the level of the forum and show his rapidly developing country, aspiring to take its place among the superpowers, in all its glory. During the year of presidency, about 200 different events related to the G20 agenda were held. An amount equivalent to $500 million in rupees was spent on the preparation and conduct of the summit alone. The city has been transformed, even signs of slums have disappeared, all stray dogs have been caught, among other things…. Modi has promised to eradicate poverty in India by the centenary of independence in 2047.

The collective efforts of Indonesia (previous chair), India and Brazil (next chair) led to the signing of a joint summit declaration. According to the Sherpas, the work of negotiating its provisions was the most difficult in the history of the G20.

It is sad! «The wording of the final declaration was a blow to the West, demonstrating the lack of global consensus on support for Ukraine,» noted the Financial Times. And Reuters summarized, «The signing of the agreement came as a surprise as the G20 is deeply divided over the war in Ukraine.»

For clarity, let’s look at the provisions of the document itself that directly or indirectly address this crisis. Just the quotes:

«We have paid particular attention to the human suffering and additional negative consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. <…> There were different views and assessments of the situation».

«Peaceful conflict resolution and crisis management efforts, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are critical».

«The G20 is not a platform to address geopolitical issues, we recognize that these issues can have serious consequences for the global economy».

«We call on all countries to adhere to the principles of international law, including territorial integrity and sovereignty».

«In accordance with the UN Charter, all states must refrain from threats and use of force to achieve territorial gains <…>, the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.»

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry criticized the declaration: «Ukraine is grateful to the partners who tried to include strong language in the text. At the same time, in the part about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the G20 has nothing to be proud of.»

And another: «Obviously, 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.»

The point is that Zelensky was not invited to New Delhi, even though he had asked.

…It is noteworthy that both Russia and the United States signed the final declaration. This is almost the only case in recent years. We can be cautiously optimistic that other agreements are possible.