G20 meet in Bengaluru agrees to disagree on Ukraine war

Bengaluru, Feb 25 (IANS) The two-day G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting ended on Saturday without a joint communique as differences prevailed among member nations over how to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In place of a joint communique, a G20 Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document was released after the meeting culminated on Saturday.

The meeting began on February 24 in Bengaluru, coinciding with the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Countries like the US and France had sought a condemnation of Russia for the invasion, while India wanted to use neutral terminology like “crisis” or “challenge” to describe the situation.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was “absolutely necessary” the communique contains a condemnation of Russia.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said there was no way the G20 could step back from a joint statement agreed at a last summit in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022, which had stated that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine”.

Russia, which is also a member of the G20 forum, described it as a “special military operation”.

Meanwhile, the meeting called for the international community “to step up its efforts to effectively combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing to enhance the integrity and resilience of the international financial system”.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s summary document observed that the global economic outlook has modestly improved since the last meeting in October 2022.

“However, global growth remains slow, and downside risks to the outlook persist, including elevated inflation, a resurgence of the pandemic and tighter financing conditions that could worsen debt vulnerabilities in many emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs),” it said.

Sitharaman chaired the two-day meeting here.

“Since February 2022, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine further adversely impact the global economy. There was a discussion on the issue. We reiterated our national positions as expressed in other fora,” the document noted.

“There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions. Recognising that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy,” the document noted.

Several issues were discussed during the course of the two-day meeting.

These ranged from debt relief for the poorer countries, to digital currencies and payments, climate change and financial inclusion.