In remarks made during the conclusion of the recent G20 summit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his dissatisfaction with the lukewarm language used in the leader’s declaration addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In Trudeau’s view, a stronger stance should have been taken, but the diversity of the G20, consisting of an “extremely disparate group”, ultimately resulted in what he deemed a weaker statement than necessary.
In this most recent summit, the global economic leaders did all agree on a final declaration, however, Trudeau noted that the tone in relation to Russia’s actions in Ukraine had softened compared to past meetings. The shared agreement, publicized by the host nation of India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appealed for the end of military devastation or similar attacks on critical infrastructure, noting the consequential effects on food and energy security and supply chains.
Absent, however, was the explicit criticism of Russia’s invasion seen in the last year’s summit, where leaders unambiguously denounced Russia’s aggressive actions and called for the withdrawal of its troops from Ukraine.
Affirming Canada’s continued support for Ukraine, Trudeau declared that the ruthless invasion by Russia, which has caused thousands of deaths, is not only criminal and unacceptable, but has also resulted in a global food and energy crisis. He further advocated for collective action to bring about accountability for Russia’s Vladimir Putin and to establish “a just and durable peace” starting with immediate Russian disengagement from Ukraine.
The leader also categorically stated that Canada would never endorse the results of Russia’s “ongoing sham elections” held in Ukraine. In a palpable jab at Putin, he noted, “People like Putin mistake being reasonable for being weak. He is dead wrong.”
In other areas, the G20 called for the renewal of grain, food and fertilizer shipments from Russia and Ukraine to address food concerns in Africa and other developing regions. Other focus areas of the summit included addressing gender equality, countering terrorism and money laundering, and developing digital technology and green architecture.
Despite hosting a significant Indian diaspora population, tensions between Canada and India persist. Trudeau raised both the issue of a separatist Sikh movement in Canada and allegations of foreign interference from India during a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During this conversation, he underscored the significance of respecting the rule of law, safeguarding the sovereignty and integrity of democratic institutions, and protecting citizens’ right to determine their own futures.
An interesting feature of the summit was a moment where Trudeau drew back from a longer handhold with Modi during a wreath laying ceremony. Trudeau, who was the only leader to react in such a way, evaded commenting on the incident, suggesting observers “could read into it what they wish.” Notably, Trudeau had also missed out on Modi’s leaders’ dinner the previous night, with the Prime Minister’s Office maintaining silence on the reason for his conspicuous absence.