World leaders set to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at G-20 summit

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — Leaders of the world’s largest economies appeared poised on Tuesday to deliver a strong message of most condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the group to keep the pressure on Moscow during its nine-month war that devastated Ukraine and rocked the global economy.

A draft statement by the leaders of the Group of 20 major economies under discussion on Tuesday echoes the UN’s condemnation of Russia’s war on Ukraine, while acknowledging the differences in views among members. The careful wording of the statement reflects the tensions prevailing at the gathering, which includes Russian and Chinese leaders, and the challenge facing the United States and its allies to isolate the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin as some nations seek to avoid becoming entangled in antagonisms between the great powers.

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Yet it would be a strong rebuke to the war that has killed thousands, heightened global security tensions and disrupted the global economy if enacted in its current form, especially as China and India refrained from condemning Russia’s aggression in the March UN resolution.

The statement seen by The Associated Press on Tuesday “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression of the Russian Federation” and “demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.” The draft G-20 statement also noted that there were different views on the situation and sanctions against Russia, saying the G-20 was not the forum to resolve security issues.

The push for a strong statement against Russia came as the summit was affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Bali and said he was returning home. So far, no other leader is known to have tested positive, although many of those in Bali also attended meetings with the Prime Minister a few days ago at an Association of Southeast Asian nations.

Biden skipped a gala evening hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, to attend to unspecified matters. Biden sent his regrets to Widodo and said he would attend a planned tree planting with other G-20 leaders on Wednesday, according to a White House official. The official, who was not authorized to comment and spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that it had been a “full day” for the president, but insisted that Biden’s absence was not not related to COVID-19.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who led the Russian delegation to the summit in Putin’s place, denounced the Biden administration’s push to condemn Moscow.

“All the problems are on the Ukrainian side which categorically refuses to hold talks and offers manifestly unrealistic and inadequate conditions to this situation,” Lavrov said.

In a video address at the summit, Zelenskyy joined Biden in trying to persuade the G-20 to further isolate Russia diplomatically and economically, despite a degraded global financial outlook that has tested the resolve of many countries. .

Inflation and slowing economies are weighing on countries that imposed sanctions on Russia for starting the war. Rising energy and food costs have destabilized business activity around the world, as much of Europe prepares to weather winter without importing Russian natural gas.

Widodo told the rally what is at stake. “If the war does not end, it will be difficult for the world to move forward,” he said.

Zelenskyy reiterated 10 conditions to end the conflict that began in February, including a full withdrawal of Russian troops and the full restoration of Ukrainian control of its territory. He spoke days after Ukraine recaptured the strategic city of Kherson from Russian forces, in his country’s latest stage in a counter-offensive that has forced Moscow to withdraw its forces from previously occupied areas.

“Ukraine should not be offered to make compromises with its conscience, sovereignty, territory and independence,” he said. “Ukraine has always been a leader in peacekeeping efforts, and the world has witnessed it. And if Russia says it supposedly wants to end this war, let it prove it with action.

At the summit, Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who played a pivotal role this summer in brokering a deal to open Ukrainian grain exports to ease global food shortages. Biden also met briefly with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose cooperation is needed to secure a US-sought price cap on Russian oil to limit the profits Moscow uses to invest in its defense base.

Modi, whose country will assume the G-20 presidency after Indonesia, reiterated his call for “the path of ceasefire and diplomacy” in the war in Ukraine and spoke of the efforts made by the leaders during the Second World War to follow a “path of peace”. ”

Separately, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a lengthy meeting with Lavrov on Tuesday to discuss the Black Sea Grain Initiative, UN spokeswoman Florencia Soto Niño said. The agreement, which allowed Ukraine’s main grain exporter to resume exports from ports blocked due to the war, is due for renewal on November 19.

The United States and its allies reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with export controls and other sanctions, making it more difficult for the Russian military to access key technologies and resupply drones. , artillery and other weapons.

Chinese officials have largely refrained from publicly criticizing Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support for the Russians, such as supplying arms. Biden said that when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, they discussed the war and “reaffirmed our shared belief” that the use or even the threat of nuclear weapons was “totally unacceptable” – a reference to the thinly veiled threats from Moscow to use atomic weapons as its invasion of Ukraine failed.

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Xi told G-20 leaders that the global economy should not be militarized.

“We must resolutely oppose the attempt to politicize food and energy issues or use them as tools and weapons,” he said in translated remarks.

After meeting Xi, French President Emmanuel Macron said he called for “respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”.

In a tweet, Macron said France and China were determined “to put an end to the escalation of the war in Ukraine and to deal with its consequences”.

The summit is the first for two key new partners in Biden’s effort: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Sunak, who took office last month, vowed to continue his conservative predecessors’ unwavering support for Ukraine. He and Biden were expected to strategize at their Wednesday meeting on new ways to bolster Ukraine’s defenses for the long term.

Meloni has pledged to continue supplying arms and aid to Ukraine, but questions remain about her far-right coalition’s commitment to standing up to Russia. She and Biden met on the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday and discussed China, the climate crisis, the impact of the Russian invasion on the global energy market and their commitment to provide support for the Ukraine, according to a statement from the White House.

AP writers Niniek Karmini, Foster Klug and Adam Schreck in Nusa Dua, Indonesia and Josh Boak and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed.

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