A meeting of finance leaders of the G20 economies ended on February 25 without a joint communiqué after faultlines over how to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could not be bridged. Instead, a G20 Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document were released after the two-day meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Bengaluru.
Coinciding with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaders from countries such as the U.S. and France wanted a condemnation of Moscow for the invasion while host India felt G20 was not the forum to address such an issue and wanted a more neutral term like “crisis” or a “challenge” to describe the “geopolitical situation”.
Russia and China were upset at the use of the G20 platform for discussing political matters. India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was the chair.
The Summary stated that the G20 nations “reiterated” their national positions on the Ukraine war.
“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 risk,” the Summary said.
“There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions. Recognising that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy,” it further said, adding this particular paragraph of the statement was not agreed to by Russia and China.
It went on to state that upholding international law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability was essential.
Willing to join any peace process to solve Ukraine war: PM Modi
India is willing to join “any peace process” to solve the Ukraine crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Welcoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Modi also urged for reforming the U.N. Security Council and an end to cross-border terrorism. The Russia-Ukraine war was the main focus of Scholz’s speech, who said the world is suffering because of the impact of the war.
He also said that he will “personally make sure” fast completion of negotiation for the EU-India Free Trade Agreement.
“Covid pandemic and Ukraine conflict affected the whole world. Developing countries were especially negatively impacted by these. We both agree that these problems can be solved through joint efforts and in the G20 we are focusing on this . India has been talking about the need for dialogue and diplomacy since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. India is willing to join any peace talks to solve this crisis,” said Modi. He also invited Chancellor Scholz for the G20 summit that will be held here later this year.
Scholz said India has made “enormous” progress since he visited India first as the mayor of Hamburg. He congratulated India for the G20 Presidency.
He also said the countries in Africa, Asia and America and elsewhere should not suffer because of the shortage of essential items like food and energy that have intensified because of the war in Ukraine “that was started by Russia”.
Congress plenary | BJP, RSS has captured every institution in country, says Sonia Gandhi
The BJP is fuelling the fire of hatred, and Congress must tackle the BJP regime with vigour and clarity, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi said at the party’s ongoing plenary session in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
She said that the BJP’s politics is built on fuelling the fire of hatred by viciously targeting women, Dalits, and tribals. “We must tackle the BJP regime with vigour, reach out to people and convey our message with clarity,” she added.
“This is a challenging time for Congress and the country as a whole. BJP-RSS has captured and subverted every single institution in the country. It has caused economic ruin by favouring a few businessmen,” she further said, making a veiled reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s alleged support to billionaire Gautam Adani.
She also alleged that the government’s actions show contempt for the values enshrined in the Constitution.
Congress is not just a political party, Gandhi said, but reflects the voices of people of all religions, castes and genders. She assured that the party will fulfil the dreams of all of them.
Gandhi and the former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi skipped the steering committee meeting on Friday, where party chief Mallikarjun Kharge was authorised to choose new members for the Congress Working Committee.
She hailed the recently concluded Bharat Jodo Yatra as a turning point for the party and could mark the end of her “innings”.
“Our victories in 2004 and 2009 along with the able leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh gave me personal satisfaction but what gratifies me most is that my innings could conclude with the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a turning point for Congress,” she said.
J&K launches massive campaign over imposing maiden property tax
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha launched a massive public outreach on the imposition of maiden property tax in the Union Territory, saying “implementation shall be done in consultation with the general public”.
“Our cities must witness rapid development and emerge as engines of growth. For that, financial self-sustainability of cities is necessary. Property tax in J&K will be one of the lowest in the country and will be used for improving public amenities in J&K. Implementation shall be done in consultation with the general public. Common citizens’ interests will be protected,” he said.
All deputy commissioners have been directed to engage locals and post videos to raise awareness regarding the property tax, which has been opposed by both the political class as well as traders in J&K, given their economic condition and unemployment in the past few years.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, V.K. Bidhuri, while interacting in Srinagar, said the property tax is very less and will be collected on houses built on more than 1000 square feet.
Meanwhile, protests by political parties against the imposition of property tax continued on the day. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Srinagar and the J&K Shiv Sena in Jammu held protests against the tax.
Dozens of PDP activists led by Suhail Bukhari, its chief spokesperson, took out a protest march from the party headquarters near Sher-e-Kashmir Park in Srinagar. They tried to march towards the Lal Chowk city centre but were stopped by a contingent of police near the Traffic Headquarters. They later turned back and dispersed.
EU slaps sanctions on top Russia officials, banks, trade
The European Union agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine targeting more officials and organisations accused of supporting the war, spreading propaganda or supplying drones, as well as restricting trade on products that could be used by the armed forces.
The EU’s Swedish presidency said the sanctions “are directed at military and political decision-makers, companies supporting or working within the Russian military industry, and commanders in the Wagner Group. Transactions with some of Russia’s largest banks are also prohibited.”
Asset freezes were slapped on three more Russian banks and seven Iranian “entities”, companies, agencies, political parties or other organisations, that manufacture military drones, which the EU suspects have been used by Russia during the war.
The new measures, proposed by the EU’s executive branch three weeks ago, were only adopted after much internal wrangling over their exact make-up, and made public one day after the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions are meant to undermine Russia’s economy and drain funds for its war effort, but they are also increasingly inflicting pain on European economies already hit by high inflation and energy prices and still suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ram Chandra Paudel is set to become Nepal’s next President after being backed by eight political parties but the development may bring down the fragile two-month-old government of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, which could plunge the country once again into political turmoil. Paudel was endorsed by eight political parties, including the CPN-Maoist Centre of Prachanda, who sidelined his coalition partner K.P. Sharma Oli’s nominee to support his candidacy. Paudel will vie against CPN-UML’s Subas Nembang in the March 9 Presidential election, which may change the power equation in the country.
Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.