Russia is under pressure as G20 tackles war in Ukraine and food prices soar

Russia is under pressure as G20 tackles war in Ukraine and food prices soar


The United States and its allies on Tuesday increased pressure on Russia to end the war in Ukraine, using a G20 summit to slap painfully high global food and fuel prices on President Vladimir Putin’s door.

Ahead of a joint G20 statement that would condemn the eight-month-old Russian invasion and threats to use nuclear weapons, US and European officials painted the Bali summit as evidence of Russia’s deepening isolation.

“I think you will see that most members of the G20 are making it clear that they condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine,” a senior US official said on condition of anonymity.

“Russia’s war of aggression is condemned in the strongest possible terms,” ??adding that many “see Russia’s war in Ukraine as the cause of immense economic and humanitarian suffering in the world.”

It was far from clear that Russia’s G20 allies China, India and South Africa would join in language that would so clearly condemn Putin’s war.

Such a condemnation at the G20 would be a major diplomatic defeat for Moscow, which has been keen to portray opposition to the conflict as Western-dominated.

However, when Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden met late Monday, there was an indication of growing Chinese unease about Russian warfare.

Both men spoke out against the “use or threat of use” of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, according to a White House report on the meeting.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, signaled that although a draft agreement had been approved in principle, there was still a lot to be done.

“I absolutely believe that we should try to use the meeting today and tomorrow to persuade all parties to put more pressure on Russia,” he told the media at the opening of the summit.

G20 leaders gather in Bali as rising inflation pushes millions more into poverty and plunges several nations into recession.

“Every household on the planet is feeling the effects of Putin’s war,” British officials said, referring to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s comments.

US allies hope this argument will resonate with G20 countries, cautious about denouncing Russia but deeply concerned about rising prices.

G20 members Argentina and Turkey are among the countries hardest hit by food inflation, while India and South Africa have avoided criticism of Moscow.

Putin has decided to skip the summit as he grapples with the aftermath of a series of embarrassing battlefield defeats in a war his supporters believed would be over in days.

Rubbing salt in the wound, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy – fresh from a visit to liberated Kherson – will address G20 leaders in a video message.

In Putin’s stable, Russia will be represented by Sergei Lavrov, although the veteran foreign minister underwent two hospitalizations in Bali in as many days for an unknown illness.

Moscow denied that the top diplomat had been hospitalized.

Despite being an experienced and combative diplomat, Lavrov is not seen as part of Putin’s inner circle – meaning the chance of a diplomatic breakthrough to end the war is vanishingly slim.

With Zelensky and Putin absent, “there is little chance of real peace diplomacy in Bali,” said Richard Gowan of the International Crisis Group.

Nevertheless, French President Emmanuel Macron extended an olive branch. According to a senior French official, he will call Putin after the G20 summit.

– grain corridor –

An expiring deal that would allow Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea is likely to be another focal point.

The deal ends on November 19, and Russia has already threatened to tear it up.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that Russia would extend the deal, saying the deal is vital for food security.

“I am confident that the Black Sea Grains Initiative will be renewed,” Guterres said.

Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers, and the Russian invasion had 20 million tons of grain blocked at its ports before the United Nations and Turkey brokered the deal in July.

“We must act urgently to prevent starvation and starvation in more and more places around the world,” Guterres said.

The build-up to the summit focused on Xi, on just his second trip abroad since the pandemic.

He is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and Australia’s Anthony Albanese on Tuesday, a day after the president held his first meeting with Biden.

The pair cooled off Cold War rhetoric in a three-hour summit as they attempted to take some of the heat out of their smoldering superpower rivalry.

“The world expects China and the United States to properly handle the relationship,” Xi told Biden.

Former US diplomat Danny Russel described the meeting as largely positive.

“We should be careful not to prematurely declare the strategic rivalry over. However, we have seen a conscious attempt to stabilize a dangerously overheated relationship.”

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