Top diplomats from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations ended their G20 meeting in New Delhi on Thursday with no consensus on the Ukraine war.
Though host India had urged all members not to allow current tensions to destroy agreements that might be reached on food and energy security, climate change, and the debt crisis, India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar said, discussions of the war and China’s widening global influence dominated much of the talks.
Jaishankar said there were “divergences” on the issue of war in Ukraine “which we could not reconcile as various parties held differing views. He added that members agreed on most issues involving the concerns of less-developed nations, “like strengthening multilateralism, promoting food and energy security, climate change, gender issues, and counterterrorism.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to remarks released by the State Department, spent much of his time describing U.S. efforts to bolster energy and food security. But he also told the ministers pointedly that Russia’s war with Ukraine could not go unchallenged.
A Chinese peace proposal for Ukraine has drawn praise from Russia, but dismissals from the West has done nothing to improve matters as U.S. Officials have repeatedly accused China in recent days of considering the provision of weapons to Russia for use in the war.
Blinken said Wednesday that the Chinese plan rang hollow given its focus on “sovereignty” compared to its own recent actions.
“China can’t have it both ways,” Blinken told reporters in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, before traveling to New Delhi. “It can’t be putting itself out as a force for peace in public, while in one way or another, it continues to fuel the flames of this fire that Vladimir Putin started.” He also said there is “zero evidence” that Putin is genuinely prepared for diplomacy to end the war. “To the contrary, the evidence is all in the other direction,” he said.
China on Thursday hit back at those comments, accusing the U.S. of promoting war by supplying Ukraine with weapons and violating Chinese sovereignty with support for Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. “The U.S. says it wants peace, but it is waging wars around the world and inciting confrontation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters in Beijing.
In the meantime, Moscow has been unrelenting in pushing its view that the West, led by the U.S., is trying to destroy Russia. Ahead of the meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry slammed U.S. policies, saying that Lavrov and his delegation would use the G-20 to “focus on the attempts by the West to take revenge for the inevitable disappearance of the levers of dominance from its hands.”
China and Russia objected to two paragraphs taken from the previous G-20 declaration in Bali last year, according to a summary of Thursday’s meeting released by India. The paragraphs stated that the war in Ukraine was causing immense human suffering while exacerbating fragilities in the global economy, the need to uphold international law, and that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”
Last week, India was forced to issue a chair’s summary at the conclusion of a G-20 finance ministers’ meeting after Russia and China objected to a joint communique that retained language on the war in Ukraine drawn directly from
As at most international events since last year, the split over the war in Ukraine and its impact on global energy and food security overshadowed the proceedings. But as the conflict drags on past 12 months, the divide has grown and now threatens to become a principal irritant in U.S.-China ties that were already on the rocks for other reasons.