NEW DELHI — Members of the G20 have drafted a joint statement expressing support for “territorial integrity and sovereignty” in the Russia-Ukraine war, according to language reviewed by POLITICO.
The final version of the communique could still change as leaders of the world’s top economies — including Russia — have to approve of the text. But two officials at the weekend summit, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy, said the current verbiage is likely to appear in the publicly released version, expected on Sunday.
The Ukraine section of the communique says all countries should “refrain from action against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.” The wording, which Western countries wanted to signal a condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, could also appease Moscow’s complaints that attacks inside Russia have escalated since Kyiv launched its counteroffensive.
The language also references adherence to the United Nations charter, which stipulates that no nation can threaten another’s territory and sovereignty by force.
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, confirmed the language in a Saturday afternoon call with reporters. “It does a very good job of standing up for the principle that states cannot use force to seek territorial acquisition or to violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of other states,” Sullivan said.
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the G20 had agreed on “very strong language about Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine” for the summit communique. The statement will recognize “the principles of the U.N. charter respecting territorial integrity,” he said.
In addition, “what you’ll see in the communique is strong language highlighting the impact of the war on food prices and food security, calling on Russia to re-enter the Black Sea grain initiative to allow exports to leave that part of the world and help feed millions of the most vulnerable people,” Sunak said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is representing his country in India in Putin’s absence, was deeply involved in the negotiations on the text, according to two Western officials involved in preparations for the summit. Moscow’s push to bash Western sanctions in the declaration didn’t make it into the draft, they said.
The final version of the communique is expected to be released before the world leaders depart the Indian capital on Sunday.
Ahead of the G20 summit, few believed that the countries would be able to agree on meaningful language about the war, not least because of the divergent views within the group. But negotiators have come to an agreement on the draft text after significant entreaties from U.S. and European leaders, according to the Western officials.
“Getting agreement on specific language related to, for example, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in a body that includes Russia, which is the perpetrator of what is a war of aggression, is going to be more challenging,” Jon Finer, U.S. President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Saturday. “We’re working through those challenges. We think we’ve made a very compelling case for how we see that conflict to the other countries at the G20.”
The Ukraine-related language isn’t the only accomplishment that the U.S. and Europe are expected to tout as the summit progresses.
Finer also described a “groundbreaking” deal on a shipping and rail-transportation corridor that will stretch from India through the Middle East into Europe. He said the arrangement, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is designed to help the Middle East reform and develop.
“We have an approach to the Middle East,” Fine told reporters Saturday, “that is focused on turning the temperature down.” The region has “often been a net exporter of turbulence and insecurity,” he said.
The EU, a big investor in the project through its Global Gateway program, a multibillion-euro investment plan designed to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, also welcomed the deal.
“The corridor will be the most direct connection to date between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to say at the launch event later on Saturday with Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are both scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the New Delhi summit. Europe has been treading a fine line on its Chinese policy in recent months, with some countries reluctant to tack too closely to Washington’s tough stance on Beijing.
At the start of the New Delhi summit, the G20 welcomed the African Union as a member, making it the second regional bloc to become a permanent member of the group after the EU. Modi made the announcement during in his opening speech for the gathering,
Eleni Courea contributed reporting.