The White House defended the final declaration of the G20 summit, which was criticized for not explicitly condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Representatives of the world’s richest nations gathered for the summit in New Delhi, where they completed hours of negotiations and drafting over the weekend finally release a statement which included watered-down language about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“All States must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any State,” the statement said, citing the United Nations Charter. “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”
The statement also mentioned the “human suffering and negative impact of the war in Ukraine” but did not specifically mention the Russian invasion.
Summit participants found it difficult to agree on the meaning of the wording, especially given the participation of Russia and China in the summit. As the meeting drew to a close, representatives faced the possibility that the group’s divisions could lead to no final statement at all – a move that diminished the summit’s credibility and embarrassed host Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have. In the end, the nations decided on the watered-down statement.
In contrast, last year’s G20 statement in Bali addressed the war more clearly, condemning “the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and emphasizing that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.”
But despite the group’s dramatic change in condemnation, the White House praised the statement for highlighting the importance of a country’s sovereignty.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that without Russia, the G20 leaders “are committed to ensuring that this Russian aggression comes to a just and lasting end.” The show’s host, Jon Karl, responded by emphasizing that the statement did not explicitly condemn Russian aggression, which was the case in last year’s G20 statement.
“I think it is very important that the G20 spoke as one” Blinken, who had just visited Ukraine, told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I mean, to some extent it may be because of the G19 summit, because obviously Russia is there too. It is part of the G20. But the fact that we are jointly issuing a statement reaffirming the importance of Ukraine, its territorial integrity and its sovereignty speaks loudly.”
“But again, what really speaks loudly are the leaders in the room themselves,” he continued. “And I think when you’re on the receiving end of what so many of them have said, when you’re on the Russian side, it’s pretty clear where the rest of the world stands.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this at a press conference the summit was an “unconditional success”. not just for India but “for all of us”.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko criticized the summit statement, saying the country was “grateful to its partners who tried to include strong language in the text.”
“However, when it comes to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the G20 cannot be proud,” Nikolenko tweeted. Attached is the statement in red, edited with more direct language to think about “what the main elements of the text could look like to be closer to reality.”