China refuses to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid G20 impasse

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The finance ministers of the world’s largest economies failed to agree on a final statement at the summit in India after China refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing refused to accept parts of the G20 statement, in which “the strongest condemnation of Russia’s aggression was expressed.”

Moscow said that “anti-Russian” Western countries had “destabilized” the G20.

It comes after China released a plan this week to end the war, which some saw as pro-Russian.

India, which hosted G20 talks in the southern city of Bengaluru this week, released a broad “chairman’s summary” of the meeting, saying there were “different assessments of the situation” in Ukraine and on sanctions against Russia.

The note says the two paragraphs summarizing the war were “agreed upon by all member countries except Russia and China.” The paragraphs were adapted from the declaration of the G20 leaders in Bali in November, and they “strongly criticized the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”

After taking a back seat after the invasion a year ago, Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic efforts around the war in recent weeks. Their top diplomat, Wang Yi, visited Europe this week, culminating in a warm welcome to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

This week, China also unveiled a 12-point plan to end the war in Ukraine, in which it called for peaceful talks and respect for national sovereignty. However, the 12-point document did not specifically say that Russia should withdraw its troops from Ukraine, nor did it condemn Russia’s invasion.

Russia welcomed the Chinese document, prompting US President Joe Biden to comment: “[Президент] Putin applauds it, so how can it be useful?”

After the G20 meeting, high-ranking Indian official Ajay Seth said at a press conference that the representatives of Russia and China do not agree with the wording regarding Ukraine because “their mandate is to deal with economic and financial issues.”

“On the other hand, all the other 18 countries felt that the war had consequences for the world economy” and needed to be mentioned, he added.

The 17-paragraph summit summary also mentioned the recent earthquake in Turkey, debt in low- and middle-income countries, global tax policies and food insecurity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia expressed regret over the fact that “the activities of the G20 continue to destabilize the Western collective and use it in an anti-Russian … form.”

He accused the United States, the European Union and the G7 countries of “clear blackmail”, urging them to “recognize the objective realities of the multipolar world”.

But German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said: “This is war. And this war has a reason, it has one reason, and that is Russia and Vladimir Putin. This should be clearly expressed at the G20 financial meeting.”

Previous meetings of G20 members also failed to produce a joint statement after Russia invaded Ukraine last February.

On Thursday, the UN General Assembly in New York overwhelmingly supported a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The proposal was supported by 141 countries, 32 abstained, and seven, including Russia, voted against.

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