(CNSNews.com) – As China seeks to present itself as a neutral mediator in what it calls the “Ukraine crisis,” it has once again sided with Russia, joining Moscow at a G20 finance ministers’ meeting in refusing to back a statement condemning the invasion.
In the absence of consensus, the Indian government, which holds the G20 presidency this year, instead issued a summary document which did include two paragraphs relating to the war, but noted that Russia and China had not joined the other members in supporting them.
The incident comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to take part in the first G20 foreign ministers’ meeting since India assumed the presidency, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
India itself has resisted joining the majority of the world’s governments in condemning Russia’s war. When the U.N. General Assembly last week adopted a resolution marking the one-year anniversary of the invasion, India, China, and South Africa were the only G20 members to abstain. Russia voted “no,” along with six of its closest allies, not members of the G20.
At the end of the finance ministers’ meeting, India in its capacity as president was responsible for issuing a “chair’s statement” at the weekend.
“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy – constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks,” the statement said.
“There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions. Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy.”
After the meeting in the southern city of Bangalore, Russia’s foreign ministry said it regretted that the activities of the G20 were again being “destabilized by the collective West and used in an anti-Russian, exclusively confrontational way.”
It said in a statement the West had again “undermined the approval of collective decisions” by the G20, by using “blackmail and diktat” and “introducing absurd interpretations of the situation in Ukraine.”
“We are urging the collective West to reject its destructive course as soon as possible, to understand the objective realities of a multipolar world and to begin building normal ties with the new centers of power on the international stage, such as Russia, based on the principles of the sovereign equality of nations,” the ministry said.
During the meeting Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reportedly accused the Russian representatives directly of complicity in President Vladimir Putin’s aggression.
Yellen told MSNBC afterwards she felt it had been important to confront her Russian counterparts, “to be clear that they bear responsibility” for the suffering and harm inflicted on Ukraine and its people.
“The G20 is concerned with the global economy and its plight, and I think there’s widespread agreement that ending this brutal war on Ukraine is the single most important policy change that would benefit the global economy and its outlook,” Yellen said.
(From India Yellen traveled to Ukraine, where she met on Monday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior officials and reaffirmed ongoing U.S. economic support.)
Commenting on Russia and China’s refusal to back the Ukraine section of the statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday it was “no wonder” that the Russians took that stance.
“When it comes to the PRC [People’s Republic of China], that’s a question for the PRC – a country that purports to believe in the principle of sovereignty, that purports to believe in the principle of territorial integrity and independence,” he said. “Why it is not living up to those principles in this context, that’s a question only the PRC can answer.”
Looking ahead at Blinken’s attendance at Wednesday’s G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, the State Department has given no indication of possible bilateral meetings between Blinken and his Russian or Chinese counterparts.
Despite deep U.S.-China tensions, Blinken did meet with a senior Chinese Communist Party official on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference earlier this month.
Relations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Western counterparts have been particularly chilly over the past year. At the last G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, in Bali last summer, Lavrov walked out amid condemnations of Russia’s war and its impact on global food and energy costs.
The war has exposed divisions within the G20 that go beyond Russia and China.
While most members voted in favor of the six U.N. General Assembly resolutions passed since last March critical of the invasion, abstentions came from India and South Africa (all six times), Brazil, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia (twice each) and Mexico (once).
Russia voted against all six resolutions. China voted “no” twice, and abstained on the other four occasions.
During a briefing on Blinken’s trip, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu was asked about the stance taken by India.
Lu cited Blinken as having acknowledged that India and Russia have had “a deep and sustained relationship over many decades.”
“It is our hope that India will use that influence with Russia to support an end to this conflict,” he said.
Members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
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