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G-20 leaders endorse declaration deploring Russian aggression in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on Feb. 21, 2022. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
November 29, 2022

After rounds of fiery debates that lasted until midnight, major world leaders finally reached a consensus and issued a declaration on Wednesday which “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression” by Russia against Ukraine and “demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal” from the territory.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo disclosed the intense scrutiny of the text at a media conference as he closed the two-day Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders’ Summit in Bali.

“This war has caused people to suffer and has weighed down on the global economy, which is still fragile due to the pandemic, and sparked food, energy and, potentially, a financial crisis,” he told a packed hall of journalists in the upscale resort area of Nusa Dua.

The declaration stated that “most members strongly condemned the war”, but noted there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.

It also said that the threat of the use of nuclear weapons was inadmissible, and “the peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital”.

“Today’s era must not be of war,” it said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated the two-day meeting, with a number of leaders condemning the conflict and calling for a ceasefire from the get-go.

Opposing voices grew louder following Tuesday’s missile strikes on cities across Ukraine, including capital Kyiv, as well as the Polish village of Przewodow, near the border of Ukraine, which claimed two lives.

The Russian Defence Ministry, however, claimed that it had not targeted anywhere within 35km of the Ukraine-Poland border. United States President Joe Biden also told reporters in Indonesia on Wednesday that the missile was unlikely to have been fired from Russia.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the Singapore media on Wednesday that “quite a number of the members spoke up” on the latest developments in the Ukraine war to deplore what had happened and “to call for peace and to find a path forward”.

“It is important that these views were expressed, and that Russia knows that this is the weight of the opinion of the international community, and that view, that Russia is in the wrong, has not changed,” he added.

Following the missile blast in Poland, the US-led Nato military alliance and Group of Seven (G-7) countries held an emergency meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit and agreed “to remain in close touch to determine appropriate next steps as the investigation proceeds”.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the US, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain said: “We offer our full support for and assistance with Poland’s ongoing investigation.”

They also reaffirmed their steadfast support for Ukraine and its people, and their readiness to hold Russia accountable for its “brazen attacks” on Ukrainian communities, the statement added.

As first-time G-20 president and host, Indonesia has sought to bridge divisions between member nations. Mr Widodo had visited Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late June to persuade them to go to Bali to reconcile their differences through a dialogue, but they eventually decided to skip the summit.

Mr Zelensky, however, addressed the grouping via video on Tuesday, urging the leaders to support Ukraine to end the war on its terms, including a withdrawal of Russian troops and a “complete cessation of hostilities”.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who represented Mr Putin, described Ukraine’s conditions as “unrealistic”. He left Bali on a plane after a gala dinner on Tuesday.

On the incident in Poland, Mr Widodo urged all parties to refrain from escalating tensions. Reiterating his calls for a ceasefire, he added: “I always state that war will only bring devastation. Therefore, we must stop the war.”

Mr Widodo also hailed the G-20 declaration as a success of Indonesia’s leadership as it was “initially doubted by many parties”.

He said Indonesia has achieved “concrete” outcomes in areas such as health, sustainable energy transition and digital transformation.

Although the Ukraine war had taken centre stage at the G-20 summit, the declaration acknowledged that the world economy was facing “unparalleled multidimensional crises” such as inflation and an energy crunch.

The leaders agreed to address supply issues and prevent food insecurity and hunger in developing countries, among other things.


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