- A compromise was reached as “most” of the members condemned Russia
- China and Russia refuse to sign a joint statement
- Little progress has been made in debt relief efforts
BENGALURU, India (February 25) (Reuters) – The finance chiefs of the world’s largest economy sharply condemned Moscow for its war on Ukraine on Saturday, with only China and Russia refusing to sign a joint statement.
India, as chair of the Group of Twenty (G20) hosting a meeting in the city of Bengaluru, was reluctant to raise the issue of war but Western nations insisted they could not support any outcome that did not include condemnation.
The lack of consensus among G20 members led India to issue a “Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document” in which it simply summarized two days of talks and noted the differences.
“Most of the members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it causes massive human suffering and exacerbates existing fragility in the global economy,” she added, noting disruption to supply chains, risks to financial stability and continued food and energy insecurity.
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“There were other opinions and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions,” she said, referring to measures taken by the United States, European countries and others to punish Russia for the invasion and starve it of revenue.
The outcome was similar to the G-20 summit in Bali last November, when host Indonesia issued a final declaration acknowledging the differences. The G20, formed over two decades to tackle economic crises, is increasingly struggling to reach the consensus needed to issue an official statement at the end of the meeting.
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said “Although there was no what we would call an official statement, but only a result statement, we still believe we have made some progress in getting all ministers involved.”
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said China’s refusal to join the declaration was “regrettable”.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Reuters earlier that it was “absolutely necessary” for any statement to condemn Russia. Two delegates told Reuters that Russia and China did not want to use the G20 platform to discuss politics.
Russia, a member of the G-20 but not a member of the G-7, refers to its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation,” and avoids calling it an invasion or war.
India has maintained a largely neutral stance, refraining from blaming Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and aggressively boosting its purchases of Russian oil.
China and India were among the countries that abstained on Thursday when the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to demand that Moscow withdraw its forces from Ukraine and stop the fighting.
Besides the G7 countries, the G20 also includes countries such as Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
“It has become difficult for the G20 to engage in constructive discussions because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an act that shakes the foundations of the world order,” Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told reporters.
On the sidelines, the International Monetary Fund held a meeting on Saturday with the World Bank, China, India, Saudi Arabia and the Group of Seven on debt restructuring for troubled economies, but there were also disagreements among members, the IMF’s managing director said. Kristalina Georgieva.
“We just finished a session in which it was clear that there is a commitment to bridging differences in favor of countries,” Georgieva, who co-chaired the roundtable with India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, told reporters.
One delegate told Reuters that some initial progress had been made, mostly in terms of wording on the issue, but the restructuring had not been discussed in detail.
Yellen said there were no “outputs” from the meeting, which was mostly organizational.
Further discussions are scheduled around the time of the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in April.
Pressure is mounting on China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor, and other countries to drastically reduce loans to distressed developing countries.
In a video address to the G20 meeting on Friday, Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun reiterated Beijing’s position that the World Bank and other multilateral development banks should also engage in debt relief by taking hair-cutting measures.
India’s push for tighter regulation of private crypto assets gained broad support at the meeting.
Georgieva said policymakers “should not take off the table” the option of an outright ban if regulation fails. Yellen did not endorse such a ban, but said it was crucial to put in place a strong regulatory framework.
Additional reporting by Leika Kihara, Christian Kramer and David Lauder. Written by Mark John and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry and Alexander Smith
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