<strong>Focus on Russia-Ukraine at G20: Has geopolitics overshadowed economic cooperation at G20 Bali Summit 2022?</strong> | The Financial Express

Focus on Russia-Ukraine at G20: Has geopolitics overshadowed economic cooperation at G20 Bali Summit 2022?

At the political level, it is evident that without the presence of Putin and Zelensky, no real peace or negotiation is possible. In fact Missile attack on Ukraine while the G20 leaders were debating the Russia-Ukraine war shows Putin’s defiance of international laws.

Focus on Russia-Ukraine at G20: Has geopolitics overshadowed economic cooperation at G20 Bali Summit 2022?
The summit has also come when President Xi has further tightened his grip on power at the Communist Party congress. (Image: Reuters)

Dr Sreshtha Chakraborty

The geopolitical crisis surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war and the growing tensions between China and the West came to the forefront as leaders of the world’s biggest economies gathered at the sun-shine island of Bali between 15-16 November.With the theme of “recover together, recover stronger”, the G20 Bali 2022 summit was the first multilateral forum where leaders have met since the Russia-Ukraine war. Despite the conspicuous absence of Vladimir Putin, the Russia-Ukraine war overshadowed events but failed to come up with any strong consensus. Even without Putin’s attendance, the G20 Bali Summit was about awkward moments and potential tension. Putin’s absence also increased focus on President Xi, whose strong support for the Kremlin reflected well in the draft of the summit communique. The summit has also come when President Xi has further tightened his grip on power at the Communist Party congress. However, bilateral meetings on the side of the G20 between President Xi and President Biden did put a floor under their country’s relationship.

G20 is the collection of the 20 largest economies conceived mainly as a bloc to discuss economic and policy matters and coordinate some mutual interest financial issues. Emerged in the wake of the financial crisis, The bloc now accounts for 80 percent of global economic output aimed at united finance ministers and central bankers from the largest economies. Though it initially focused on broad microeconomic policy, the last few summits, especially the G20 Bali 2022 summit, saw an expansion of its avenues to incorporate the significant challenges in the world today like Global Health and architecture, digital transformation and sustainable energy transition. Though the group’s main priorities are economics and development, unfortunately, there are limited substantial outcomes at the economic level to counter the sky-high inflation rate, energy security concerns, and food crisis so severe that some countries are on the verge of bankruptcy.

At the political level, it is evident that without the presence of Putin and Zelensky, no real peace or negotiation is possible. In fact Missile attack on Ukraine while the G20 leaders were debating the Russia-Ukraine war shows Putin’s defiance of international laws. The 10-point peace plan and decry for ending the war by the Ukrainian President, who addressed the summit as G-19, looked futile as leaders failed to reach a common ground on ending the war. When the first summit was held in 2009, it was applauded for its diversity, strength and ability to respond to global challenges. However, the Bali G20 summit has been good at issuing a grandiose communique. It acknowledges that it is not an era of war but has proven incapable of advancing any solution. ThisG20 summit has also failed to raise consensus and deliver a joint text on energy and climate concerns. The lack of discussion around climate finance and the environmental impact of the Russia-Ukraine war also highlighted the limitation of the G20 summit. Undoubtedly nine months of war severely disrupted trade, natural gas and food supplies but the discussion to mitigate the geopolitical crisis also shifted the focus from economic progress. Sixty percent of the countries are also facing sovereign debt distress. Without handling debt distress, it is impossible to initiate a vast flow of private sector climate finance and reach net zero.

India is next in line and inheriting a divided G-20. The Indonesian Presidency kept G20 on life support and handed over the presidency to India, which now has the pivotal role of restructuring it as a functioning body before it loses its purpose. Indonesia’s presidency has tried to create a powerful, balanced approach, and India is aiming for a more “inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented” stand knowing the criticality of collaboration and cooperation at this juncture. Indonesia’s presidency sets the precedent for Global south setting the G20 agenda. From 1st December, India will take up the presidency, followed by Brazil and South Africa. This gives the onus in the hand of the Afro-Asian nation to build a solid synergy to put forward cohesive plans and prioritize concerns of the developing world by building solidarity in the Global South. It also provides a unique opportunity for these four developing countries to create a strong niche by building a multilateral organization that sees beyond division and alignments. The task of driving a multilateral organization is a challenging task; it requires institutional effectiveness and a political stronghold. Nevertheless, India can utilize this opportunity to emerge as a strong player by championing the principle of non-alignment.

Author holds a PhD in International Politics from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University and presently working as Assistant Professor in Political Science, Manav Rachna Institute of Research and Studies.

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First published on: 17-11-2022 at 15:53 IST