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G20 Bali summit opens amid Russia's war on Ukraine

November 15, 2022

As world leaders meet in Bali for the G20 summit, Russia's invasion of Ukraine overshadows talks. Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on leaders to not fall into another Cold War.

Flags at the G20 media center
Indonesia, which is hosting the G20 summit, has often pursued a neutral path regarding Russia and UkraineImage: Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance

The G20 summit kicked off in Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday, as Russia's war on Ukraine presses forward.

During his address opening the conference, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called on member states to end the conflict. US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other leaders are attending the event. 

"We have no other option, collaboration is needed to save the world," Widodo said. "The G20 must be the catalyst for inclusive economic recovery. We must not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war."  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also gave a speech via video link to the summit, at Widodo's request and called on G20 leaders to become a "co-creator of peace" and also end Russia's "aggressive" war.

"I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped," Zelenskyy said in a video address.

"Every day of delay means new deaths of Ukrainians, new threats to the world, and an insane increase in losses due to continuation of the Russian aggression — losses for everyone in the world," the Ukrainian leader warned.

More developments from the G20 summit in Bali on Tuesday, November 15

UN, Russia hold 'very frank and open discussion' on grain export deal

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have held a "very frank and open discussion" on the Black Sea grain deal, in a meeting Tuesday on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

The deal, ongoing since July, allowed the export of critical grain produce out of Ukraine's ports in the Black Sea, after a hiatus of over four months prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"They had a lengthy meeting and they went through all the aspects related to the process of facilitation of Russian exports - food and fertilizers - and the Black Sea Grain Initiative," deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq reportedly said. 

The discussion came merely days before the deal is due to expire. Russia has threatened it could refrain from renewing the deal, creating a global grain crisis, if it is not granted full access for its own food and fertilizer exports into the world market.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major grain exporters. When Russia started the war on February 24, alarm bells sounded, warning of a looming food crisis, which drove the UN and Turkey to mediate the grain export deal.

China hails Russia's 'responsible' stance against nuclear war

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed to his Russian counterpart on Tuesday China's contentment with what was described as Russia's "rational" and "responsible" attitude toward avoiding a nuclear war.

In a Foreign Ministry statement cited by the Reuters news agency, Wang welcomed Russia's willingness to engage in dialogue over the war in Ukraine, as well as its approval for the resumption of the Black Sea grain export deal.

"China is willing to work with Russia to push forward their high-level exchanges and communication in various fields, deepen bilateral practical cooperation and facilitate personnel exchanges," Wang was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.

Russia was represented in the G20 summit by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who stepped in after the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin was unable to make it.

The Chinese statements come one day after a meeting between the US and Russian spy chiefs, where the former warned the latter of delivering on earlier threats of mobilizing nuclear arms during Russia's war in Ukraine.

Australia, China hold first formal summit in over five years

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first formal summit in over five years where trade, consular and human rights issues were discussed.

Albanese said at the start of the meeting, "We have had our differences," and added that he looks forward to a constructive dialogue with Xi.

China has been displeased that Canberra passed legislation to combat foreign influence operations, bar Huawei from 5G contracts and seeks an independent investigation into COVID-19's origins. In response, Beijing has imposed trade tariffs on Australian products such as barley, coal, wine and beef and placed a freeze on minister-level contacts.

Scholz: Ending war in Ukraine 'most effective' fix to global economy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the "most effective way to get a recovery in the world economy is to end Russia's war against Ukraine" during a session on food and energy security.

On the eve of the G20, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made similar remarks.

"Ending Russia's war is a moral imperative and the single best thing we can do for the global economy," she said.

Modi urges return to diplomacy to end Russia's war against Ukraine

In his opening remarks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine without condemning Moscow or Vladimir Putin directly.

"I have repeatedly said that we have to find a way to return to the path of cease-fire and diplomacy in Ukraine," he said.

In September, however, Modi told Putin directly, "Today's era is not an era of war."

Russia is India's largest military supplier and the fourth biggest market for the country's pharmaceutical industry.

EU accuses Russia of flaring gas to drive price up

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, accused Russia of flaring its gas instead of selling it in response to Western sanctions in the aftermath of the decision to invade Ukraine on February 24. In retaliation, Moscow also cut off the EU from its supplies of gas.

She said Russia's actions was pushing the EU to institute a price cap on gas, something that could potentially benefit low and middle income countries.

Von der Leyen said Russia was "creating shortages in global energy markets" on purpose "causing prices to skyrocket."

G20 leaders condemn war in Ukraine in draft declaration

A draft of a declaration by G20 leaders strongly denounced the war in Ukraine and highlighted how it was contributing toward escalating economic fragilities throughout the world, according to news agency Reuters on Tuesday.

The 16-page document, yet to be adopted by G20 members, was confirmed by a European diplomat.

The draft said that while "G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues," the leaders acknowledge "security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy."

Earlier, Russia tried to veer the focus from its war on Ukraine by insisting that G20 was not the platform to discuss security issues and that it should rather prioritize economic challenges.

For Russia's part, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said G20 countries had tried to "politicize" the summit's joint declaration.

Climate protection effort discussed

The G20 major economies discussed new climate action in a draft declaration and called upon all parties to increase efforts to reduce emissions and prepare of climate change adoption.

The climate portion of the declaration, seen by news agency dpa, said it "will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries, taking into account different approaches," if the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) annually is to be achieved.

The G20 leaders also advocated urgent "progress" in discussions over compensation for harms brought on by climate change in developing regions. Currently, the world's leading 20 economies are responsible for 80% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

"We recall and further urge developed countries to fulfil their commitments to deliver on the goal of jointly mobilizing €100 billion per year urgently by 2020 and through to 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation action and transparency on implementation," the declaration said.

Politicians are also meeting in Egypt for an annual conference to discuss coping with climate change.

Xi calls to stem interest rate hike fallout

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the affluent G20 countries to control the effects of interest rate hikes on Tuesday.

"We must contain global inflation and resolve systematic risks in the economy and finance," Xi said in Bali. "Developed economies should reduce the negative spillover effects of their monetary policy adjustments and stabilise debts at a sustainable level."

The US Federal Reserve recently raised interest rates to their highest level since before the 2008 financial crisis in an effort to fight inflation. This monetary policy has caused the dollar to appreciate, causing stress on developing economies.

Xi's comments came after he discussions with US President Joe Biden. 

Biden after meeting Xi: 'We had a candid conversation'

IMF chief warns against trade protectionism

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva warned G20 leaders against trade protectionism.

According to her, the geopolitical division of the international economy will have a negative impact on growth.

"Removing barriers, especially for food and fertilizers, can go a long way to counter the suffering of hundreds of millions of people," Georgieva said.

She had previously made mention of the fact that 345 million people worldwide were currently experiencing a food crisis as a result of the Russia's war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and climate crises.

"We must not allow protectionism to take root and the world to drift into separate blocs," she said recommending that trade should be allowed "to do its job."

Georgieva has previously issued a warning against the division of the international economy into blocs with China and other state-driven economies on one side and the United States and its allies on the other.

Different technology, governing laws, and unavoidable trade protectionism would result in a yearly loss of at least 1.5% of global GDP output, according to the IMF.

EU's Michel urges international community to pressure Russia

Earlier on Tuesday, European Council President Charles Michel urged the international community to pressure Russia. Michel said the event was key to preventing Moscow from further using "food and energy as weapons."

The summit will finish off with a joint final declaration. A Western diplomat told the German news agency DPA that Russia is willing to accept a passage in the declaration that condemns the war against Ukraine. 

The passage reportedly calls the conflict a war and not a "special military operation," the preferred term of the Kremlin.        

The draft communique also urges an extension of the Ukraine grain deal, AFP news agency reported. 

ar, wd, ss/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)