India’s Diplomatic Victory: PM Modi Achieves G20 Consensus Amid Ukraine Crisis


In a diplomatic victory that seemed unlikely just days ago, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was able to successfully orchestrate an agreement on a G20 joint declaration that skillfully avoided any direct criticism of Russia’s war against Ukraine. This task appeared nearly impossible due to the deeply entrenched division within the group concerning Russia’s invasion. However, in a display of diplomatic finesse, India brought all G20 member nations into unanimous agreement, a feat acknowledged and praised by key international players such as the US, the UK, Russia, and China.

Though Ukraine, absent from the summit, voiced dissatisfaction, interesting geopolitical developments prior to the summit provide some insight into India’s successful consensus-building. In these preceding weeks, the five-nation Brics group, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, expanded to include Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – countries with close Chinese ties. While this augmentation may not have directly influenced the G20 summit outcome, it likely exacerbated the West’s already heightened apprehension regarding China’s growing global influence.

It’s evident that India is viewed by the West as a viable counterbalance to China, which made it essential for them to ensure a successful conclusion to India’s presidency with a tangible declaration. The primary point of contention was the conflict in Ukraine. The wording employed in the declaration was crucial, needing to be neither so harsh as to alienate Russia nor so weak as to dissatisfy the West. India’s comprehensive international relationships put it in an ideal position to negotiate this delicate compromise, resulting in a declaration that met Russia’s requirements whilst also giving the Western countries enough to be contented.

However, the declaration, while avoiding blaming Russia for the war, acknowledged the human suffering and global food and energy security repercussions resulting from the conflict. The UK, US, France, and Russia appeared to agree that the declaration was a successful outcome, albeit interpreting the language in different ways. Ukraine, however, expressed displeasure with the agreement.

The developing countries’ debt crisis was another primary concern. These nations, already struggling due to the pandemic, have found their economic issues further exacerbated by the war. Wealthy countries are being pressured to increase financial support, particularly considering that debts to creditors from the world’s poorest nations total $62bn annually, with two-thirds of this owed to China.

The G20 declaration made no mention of China, either directly or indirectly, when addressing the debt crisis. This careful wording likely prevented a potential veto from China who is closely allied with Russia. The Group agreed on tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 but did not establish significant emission reduction goals, thereby appeasing crude oil countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, as well as India and China who view Western emission targets as unrealistic.

The addition of the African Union into the G20, a move that was widely supported before the summit, further reinforced India’s aim towards broadening the Global South’s influence on worldwide platforms. The success of the summit is viewed as a testament to India’s diplomatic efforts, even if the consensus was achieved through cautious compromises. However, the future implications of these negotiations for the G20 and the relationships between developed and developing nations remain to be seen.


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