India Victorious in Brokering Unanimous G20 Consensus on Russia-Ukraine Conflict


In a significant diplomatic victory, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team successfully brokered consensus around the G20 joint declaration concerning the Russia-Ukraine conflict. A task deemed almost unattainable days before the summit, given the deep divisions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it resulted in unanimous agreement amongst G20 members without a single dissenting voice.

Despite Ukraine’s discomfort with the statement, absent representation at the summit, it was well received by key global players, including the US, the UK, Russia, and China. This raises the question, how did India successfully bridge nations with radically dissimilar perspectives on Ukraine?

Insight can be derived from examining the declaration in conjunction with geopolitical developments before the summit. The Brics group, comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, expanded to include new members Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE during its recent annual summit. These final six nations possess strong affiliations with China, consequently, while this expansion may not have directly influenced the G20 summit outcome, it underscores increasing Western unease regarding China’s burgeoning global influence.

The West perceives India as a counterbalance to China and desired a successful conclusion to Delhi’s presidency. This aspiration, combined with concerns over Ukraine, compelled Western nations to facilitate India’s negotiations. Previous G20 declarations had overtly condemned Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine, a stance that would not be accepted by either Russia or Western members this time. India’s diplomatic relations with both Russia and the West enabled it to mediate an agreeable resolution; a declaration that satisfied Russia’s demands without alienating Western nations.

While the declaration declined to assign blame to Russia for the war, it alluded to the ‘human suffering and adverse repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine on global food and energy security.’ This nuanced language allowed varying interpretations from both sides, achieving agreement amongst the G20 nations while navigating differing geopolitical perspectives.

The summit also addressed debt crises confronting developing nations, calling for G20 nations to accelerate the implementation of the common framework geared towards assisting vulnerable countries. Absence of direct or indirect references to China and its contentious lending practices likely facilitated Beijing’s acceptance of the declaration.

In terms of climate commitments, the G20 nations agreed upon tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, albeit without setting any significant goals on emission cuts, a noteworthy avoidance considering these nations account for nearly 80% of greenhouse gases. No specific target to decrease crude oil use was mentioned, shifting focus instead towards the phasing out of coal appeals to crude producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Encouragingly, consensus was also reached on ratifying the African Union into the G20, supporting India’s objective to provide enhanced representation for developing nations on a global platform.

The diverse perspectives and priorities of the G20 members required significant negotiation and balancing from Prime Minister Modi’s team. In what was described as ‘one of the most troublesome G20 summits’, it necessitated an exhaustive 20 days of pre-summit agreement on the declaration followed by an additional five days of negotiations. The success or otherwise of this G20 summit in resolving fractures between developed and developing nations remains to be seen.


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