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As G20 Summit Ends, Divisions Persist on Russia Sanctions

By Sui-Lee Wee


World leaders at the Group of 20 summit meeting struggled to find common ground on the war in Ukraine in their closing statement Wednesday, underscoring the gulf between the West and other countries on Russia’s actions.


The summit, held on the Indonesian island of Bali, did not result in a customary joint communiqué, but the officials were able to agree on a “leaders’ declaration.” That statement said that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine” but that “there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”


Major powers such as India and China have been unwilling to join the Western-led sanctions against Moscow, and Indonesia has not explicitly condemned Russia over the invasion.


Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, the chair of this year’s summit, described the paragraph on the war as the most “highly debated.”


“Until midnight we talked about this, and finally the Bali declaration was reached through consensus,” he told reporters.


Joko said that a representative from Russia had been present throughout, although President Vladimir Putin did not attend and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, left Bali on Tuesday before the end of the two-day summit. Asked whether Lavrov’s departure had been scheduled in advance, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s foreign ministry, Teuku Faizasyah, said in a text message, “It is my understanding.”


I Wayan Koster, the governor of Bali, said Lavrov had gone to the hospital for a check Monday and that he was healthy. A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry later denied a news report that Lavrov had been hospitalized, calling it the “aerobatics of fake news.”


Little was expected from this year’s G-20 summit, and Joko had described it as perhaps the “most difficult” one yet, given the broader political climate. Before the meeting Monday between President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, tensions between the United States and China were at their highest in years. There was also an overriding worry among many attendees that the agenda could be overtaken by the war in Ukraine.


But Joko said the summit had resulted in concrete and tangible results, including the establishment of a $1.5 billion pandemic fund and an $81.6 billion sustainability trust under the International Monetary Fund to help countries in crisis.

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