G-7 countries were able to “save” the G-20 from an early demise by agreeing to the draft declaration, German Ambassador Phillip Ackerman said on September 12, rejecting statements from several countries, including Ukraine, which suggested that Western countries, comprising the G-7 and the European Union, had totally “compromised” their stand on Russia and Ukraine.
On the contrary, Mr. Ackerman said, the German delegation had left Delhi “highly satisfied” with the outcome, and credited “skilful Indian negotiations”, as well as a joint proposal by Indonesia-India-Brazil-South Africa, that was presented to the rest of the G-20 as a fait accompli hours before the G-20 Leaders’ Summit began, with the breakthrough in talks.
As The Hindu had reported on Saturday, the joint proposal by the four consecutive hosts of the G-20, all belonging to “emerging economies”, contained the eight paragraphs that finally made it into the Summit declaration, word for word, without any changes. The paragraphs under the heading “For the Planet, People, Peace and Prosperity”, which was also used in the document, had erased language from the Bali G-20 declaration that directly criticised Russia for the war in Ukraine, although it retained the word “war” and the strong language against “nuclear threats” that was in the Bali statement, which Russia had opposed.
“The G-20 is a very important forum. It is one of the last fora that has everyone around the table and a summit without a declaration would have meant death to the G-20,” Mr. Ackerman told a select group of journalists. “And it would have made it very difficult for Brazil to pick it up next year [at the G-20 summit in Rio De Janeiro].”
He added that the ultimatum was delivered by the Indian G-20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant on September 8 overnight, asking other delegations to “take it or leave it”, and if they had a problem with the wording the four emerging economies had come up with, to “have their leader to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, an account that matches with statements made by Mr. Kant during a number of interviews. On Monday, Mr. Kant thanked the “Sherpas who helped us clinch the geopolitical paras and arrive at consensus”, naming the Sherpas of Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa specifically.
Eventually, all countries agreed to the formulation, the German Ambassador said, but claimed that it was Russia and China, not the Western bloc, that had needed to be convinced. “Russia was completely, completely isolated,” Mr. Ackermann said, countering comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had claimed a diplomatic win as Russia was not named directly for the conflict in the document.
“Yes, Ukraine would have loved to see Russia condemned more explicitly, and for the war ‘in’ Ukraine to be described as a war ‘against’ Ukraine, as [Germany] would have liked that, too. But one must see what is feasible….Unlike Bali, where two countries [Russia and China] were unhappy, we now have a text that is agreed to by all the countries,” Mr. Ackermann said.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry had reacted angrily, noting that the New Delhi G-20 declaration was “nothing to be proud of”, indicating that the Ukraine Government was disappointed that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had not been invited to the G-20 as he had requested in a letter to the Indian Prime Minister. Significantly, a day later, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited Kyiv, promising more aid and support for Ukraine.