BALI, INDONESIA (Dispatches) — Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) of the world’s largest economies held talks on Tuesday on the island of Bali, Indonesia, marred by divisions caused by the war in Ukraine.
Leaders are set to issue a statement in which “most” members would strongly condemn Russia over the Ukraine war, said a senior U.S. administration official in a briefing to reporters Tuesday morning.
The statement, scheduled to be released at the end of the summit later this week, is designed to show that the group is isolating Russia, a member of the G20, the official said. But it is unclear how many countries will be signing on.
The statement on Russia is the sticking point that makes a joint communique, or a declaration agreed by all parties at the end of the summit, appear unlikely, diplomatic sources said.
Addressing G20 leaders virtually from Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky outlined a series of conditions needed to end the war Ukraine.
Under initial Western boycott threats to exclude Russian President Vladimir Putin, Widodo invited Zelensky even though Ukraine is not a member of the group.
Zelensky said Russia must reaffirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory and pay compensation for damage caused.
Putin is not attending the summit in person. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was in the room when Zelensky spoke and later told reporters that Ukraine was refusing to engage in peace talks and proposing unrealistic peace conditions.
Lavrov said Western countries had tried to “politicize” the joint declaration, accusing them pushing to include a line against Russia on behalf of all participating countries.
“Yes, our Western colleagues tried in every way to make that declaration politicized and tried to push through language that implied condemning the actions of the Russian Federation on behalf of the entire G20, which includes us,” Lavrov said.
“But let’s do this in a fair way and let’s make it clear that, on this topic, we have differences,” Lavrov said.
“Yes, there is a war going on in Ukraine, a hybrid war that the West has unleashed and been preparing for years,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov said work on the declaration was nearing completion and that it would be approved after Wednesday’s meeting.
“The declaration in question covers all the areas that have been discussed, including food and energy, healthcare, and digitalization,” he said.