The View from India | No consensus on Ukraine at G20

Understand international affairs from the Indian perspective with View from India

Updated - March 07, 2023 08:26 am IST

Published - March 06, 2023 04:45 pm IST

(This article forms a part of the View From India newsletter curated by The Hindu’s foreign affairs experts. To get the newsletter in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.)

The much awaited G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in New Delhi ended without a joint communique. At the opening of the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to member countries “to rise above their differences” and focus on “what unites us”. But deep divisions between the U.S.-led western countries and the Russia-China combine on the language on Russia’s war in Ukraine derailed a joint statement. Eventually, the meeting, chaired by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, ended with a ‘Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document’, issued by India, that named Russia and China as the reason the two paragraphs (three and four from G20 Bali Document of 2022) pertaining to the war in Ukraine could not be reconciled. While Mr. Jaishankar said negotiators managed to achieve consensus on all issues concerning Global South, the Ukraine issue would continue to pose a serious diplomatic challenge for India, which is preparing to host the G20 leaders summit in September. The divisions Russia’s war has triggered seem to have seeped into all major multilateral forums and deepening divisions between great powers could negatively impact India’s push to advance the causes of the Global South and multilateralism.

Separately, the Foreign Ministers of the Quad countries — India, the U.S., Australia and Japan —called for “just and lasting peace” in Ukraine and respect for a rules-based order in the South and East China Seas, apparently targeting both Russia and China. The statement, which was released after the Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting hosted by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Delhi, was met with sharp responses from both Russia and China, who called the grouping disruptive and “exclusionary”.

The G20 gathering also saw Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken holding a brief meeting. The U.S. and Russian version on the meeting were divergent—Mr. Blinken said he raised critical issues with Mr. Lavrov, from Russia’s suspension of the New START arms control treaty to the war in Ukraine, while the Russian side said it was not a full-fledged meeting” and that both sides “made contact” after it was requested by the Americans. Despite differing narratives, the meeting was significant as this was the first time the top Russian and American diplomats held face-to-face talks since the Ukraine war began on February 24, 2022.

India-China talks

Jaishankar with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang

Jaishankar with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang | Photo Credit: PTI

Another important bilateral that took place on the sidelines of the G20 meeting was the one between Mr. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang. The meeting — a first between the two Ministers, with Mr. Qin having been appointed in December 2022 — was focused on addressing “challenges in the bilateral relationship” and specifically the peace and tranquillity in the border, Mr. Jaishankar said. The Minister described the bilateral relationship between the two Asian giants as “abnormal” in his remarks to the media. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement, sought to delink the boundary from the rest of ties. “As neighbouring countries and major emerging economies, China and India have far more common interests than differences,” Mr. Qin said. He repeated the Chinese stand that “the boundary issue should be put in the proper place in bilateral relations” and that “the situation on the borders should be brought under normalised management as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Moscow was trying to be “helpful” in bringing India and China closer. Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, he said. He cautioned against ‘outside players’ and said Russia would like India and China to meet more often as the Russia-India-China trilateral has been in existence since the days of his predecessor, Yevgeny Primakov.

Battle for Bakhmut

Russian troops have made steady advances into Bakhmut, the embattled city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Russian troops have made steady advances into Bakhmut, the embattled city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Russian troops have made steady advances into Bakhmut, the embattled city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, which President Putin declared as Russian territory last September. Wagner PMC, a Russian private security company, is leading the attack, backed by regular Russian troops. Ukrainian leaders as well as British intelligence said last week that the situation in Bakhmut was difficult. Russian troops are trying to encircle the city, seeking to cut off supplies to the remaining Ukrainian troops. The Ukrainian side has reportedly made a partial withdrawal from the eastern side of Bakhmut, blowing up bridges across the Bakhmutkaa river and helping evacuate civilians. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, reported that Kyiv’s actions may point to a looming Ukrainian pull back. The Russians had taken Soledar, a small town neighbouring Bakhmut, in January. If they take Bakhmut, it would be their first major victory since their retreat from Kharkiv and Kherson last year.

The Top Five

Positing India’s stand on the Ukraine war: New Delhi, which wants the world to get back to focusing on more pressing issues, should stick to its pragmatic neutrality and push for a practical solution to the crisis, writes Stanly Johny.

The aftermath of Sri Lanka’s economic crash: As the island nation eagerly awaits a provisional IMF package to chart its path to economic stability, it is currently witnessing a new wave of protests, mainly by workers and professionals, as people’s economic hardships increase, writes Meera Srinivasan.

Understanding the Windsor framework: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and how did it lead to disruptions in trade between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom? What is the source of tension between the Unionists and Republicans of Northern Ireland? Will the new framework come into effect immediately? Explains Narayan Lakshman.

Nepal’s coalition politics, a game of musical chairs: As far as Kathmandu is concerned, India must focus on connectivity and development as a good ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, writes Rakesh Sood.

George Soros | A Wall Street philanthropist: The billionaire, who attacked India’s government for being ‘undemocratic’, spends billions on civil society groups across geographies through his Open Society Foundations, writes G. Sampath.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.