NUSA DUA, Indonesia – Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) nations on Tuesday condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, deploring its devastating impact on the global economy, as Russia launched new missile attacks on Kyiv.
Without making a direct mention of the conflict, Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned that ending the war was the responsibility of nations for the sake of current and future generations.
“If the war doesn’t end, it will be difficult for the world to move forward,” he said in his opening address at the two-day G-20 Leaders’ Summit at the Apurva Kempinski hotel in Bali.
“We should not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another Cold War,” he added.
Seventeen leaders had gathered for the summit, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Joe Biden. But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen cut short his trip after testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.
Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin also skipped the meeting, despite Mr Widodo’s efforts to persuade them to come to Bali to start a dialogue. Mr Putin is represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who reportedly left Bali on a plane on Tuesday.
Missiles rained down on Ukraine on Tuesday as the G-20 summit was under way, hitting many parts of the country, including Kyiv in north-central Ukraine and Lviv in the west.
In a special video address on Tuesday morning before the latest countrywide bombings in Ukraine, Mr Zelensky appealed to the G-20 leaders to pressure Russia to withdraw its troops, after nine months of fighting.
“I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,” he said.
He also called on G-20 leaders to adopt a 10-point peace formula and end the war on the basis of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The pleas for peace and unity were echoed by other leaders.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak slammed Russia’s “barbaric war”, and called its “weaponisation of energy and food” totally unacceptable.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi renewed his calls for a “return to the path of ceasefire and diplomacy in Ukraine”.
India, which will take over the G-20 presidency and host the summit next year, has been widely seen as a potential broker for peace due to its good relationship with both the West and Russia.
In talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the summit, Mr Xi stressed that China’s position on the Ukraine crisis was “clear and consistent” – it stood for ceasefire, cessation of the conflict and peace talks.
The French presidency said in a statement that the consequences of this conflict went beyond Europe’s borders and should be overcome with close cooperation between France and China, Reuters reported.
A draft leaders’ declaration seen by The Straits Times said that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine”. It also stressed that the war “is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy – constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks”.
“Today’s era must not be of war,” said the document, which also noted that some countries have “other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”.
The document must still be approved by G-20 leaders before it is officially issued at the close of the summit on Wednesday.
The Bali meeting focuses on three main areas – global health systems, sustainable energy transition and digital transformation – but the Ukraine crisis has marred a few G-20 meetings due to a lack of consensus among member states. For example, the finance ministers’ meeting in July and the climate talks in August ended without a joint communique.
Mr Widodo urged the leaders to put aside their differences and come up with concrete actions to heal the global economy, stressing that Indonesia “has made every effort to bridge very deep, very wide differences”.
“However, success will only be achieved if all of us, without exception, are committed, work hard, put aside our differences to produce something concrete, something that is beneficial to the world,” he added.