Russia and the US both praised a G20 Summit declaration that stopped short of directly criticising Moscow for the war in Ukraine as the bloc’s leaders headed into the final day of deliberations on Sunday.
The world’s biggest economies adopted a consensus declaration in New Delhi on Saturday that avoided condemning Russia for the war but highlighted the human suffering the conflict had caused and called on all states not to use force to grab territory.
“Everything was reflected in a balanced form,” Svetlana Lukash, the Russian G20 sherpa, or government negotiator, was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax.
“All members of the G20 have agreed to act as one in the interests of peace, security and conflict resolution around the world.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters the declaration “does a very good job of standing up for the principle that states cannot use force to seek a territorial acquisition or to violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of other states”.
Germany and Britain have also praised the resolution but Ukraine has said “it was nothing to be proud of”.
In the weeks leading to the summit, sharply differing views on the war had threatened to derail the meeting, with the West demanding members call out Moscow for the invasion and Russia saying it would block any resolution that did not reflect its position.
The summit also admitted the African Union, which includes 55 member states, as a permanent member of the G20.
On Sunday, the leaders, including US President Joe Biden, German Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japan’s Fumio Kishida, visited the memorial of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.
Most of the leaders were barefoot as they walked to the site where Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948 by a Hindu extremist and stood in silence.
Biden later left for Vietnam, missing the last session of the summit. The White House said it was not aware of him having any talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov or Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who led their country’s delegations at the summit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin both skipped the summit.
“This was one of the most difficult G20 summits in the almost twenty-year history of the forum… it took almost 20 days to agree on the declaration before the summit and five days here on the spot,” Lukash, the Russian delegate, said.
“This was not only due to some disagreements on the Ukraine subject, but also due to differences in positions on all key issues, primarily the issues of climate change and the transition to low-carbon energy systems…”
A European Union official, who did not want to be identified, said on Sunday the Ukraine war was the most contentious issue in the negotiations.
“Without India’s leadership it would not have been possible,” the official said, adding that Brazil and South Africa also played a crucial role in bridging differences.
Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has left tens of thousands dead, displaced millions and sown economic turmoil across the world. Moscow, which says it is conducting a “special military operation” there, denies committing any atrocities.