Win for Global South, says Russian FM, praises India for G-20 summit statement success

At press conference full of barbs about the ‘West’, Lavrov says G-7 and EU countries were made to compromise on Ukraine language by developing countries

Updated - September 11, 2023 01:06 am IST

Published - September 10, 2023 11:02 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a press conference on the second day of the G-20 summit in New Delhi on September 10, 2023.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a press conference on the second day of the G-20 summit in New Delhi on September 10, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Praising the New Delhi declaration as a “milestone” for the G-20 process, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the summit hosted by India prevented Western countries from making the Ukraine conflict the centre point of its agenda. While Mr. Lavrov denied any change to military and technical supplies to India due to the conflict, including the delivery of S-400 missile systems to India, he said that India has promised Russia new avenues of investment so that the “billions of rupees” now lying in trade surpluses with India can be utilised. He said India had been instrumental in achieving a “fair” outcome at the summit, and presented the summit statement as a diplomatic win for Russia.

“The text doesn’t mention Russia at all,” Mr. Lavrov said, adding that the “Ukrainian crisis is mentioned but only in the context of the need to settle all conflicts in the world in accordance with the UN Charter”. In the eight paragraphs on geopolitical issues in the New Delhi Declaration issued on Saturday, the only direct mentions of Russia are with regard to reviving the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a major shift from the Bali G-20 statement where Russia’s actions in Ukraine were severely criticised. Mr. Lavrov said that he had not expected the outcome, but seemed clearly pleased with it. 

In a press conference full of barbs about the G-7 and EU, that he repeatedly referred to as “the West”, Mr. Lavrov said that all G-20 declarations need a compromise. “It is good that Western countries agreed to compromise”, he added. 

“Perhaps it was the voice of their conscience,” he said, when asked why he thought the G-7 and European Union had agreed to the shift after remaining adamant on the ‘Bali paragraphs’ for months, adding that the summit marked the “awakening” of the Global South members of the G-20.

“Our BRICS partners Brazil, India, China and South Africa have been particularly active and thanks to these consolidated positions, the Global South has been able to protect and uphold their legitimate interests, and the West has been unable to ‘Ukrainize’ the agenda to the detriment of the discussions for developing countries,” Mr. Lavrov told reporters in a press conference after the summit ended, giving the most credit to India for its role in uniting the Global South.

Mr. Lavrov sidestepped a question about whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also spoken to President Vladimir Putin to effect the breakthrough in G-20 negotiations, but said that while Sherpas negotiated the language, they took “political” guidance if they faced obstacles. He also pointed to his meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Indonesia last week on the sidelines of the ASEAN and East Asia summits, and said the two Ministers had been able to discuss many bilateral and multilateral issues.

Chief among bilateral issues has been the development of a payment mechanism that would allow the two countries to fully utilise payments made in national currencies in order to sidestep U.S. and European sanctions on Russian trade after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“Our Indian friends said they would propose promising areas they can be invested in… Right now our governments are talking how to use and invest them to mutual benefit,” he said in response to a question from The Hindu.  However, he denied that India-Russia military and technical ties were facing any problems, and said that the  S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems deal is proceeding on schedule.  

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