The G-20 summit chaired by India, which ended on September 9 and 10, saw a viral picture of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov laughing openly while holding each other’s hands. This picture has been interpreted as a victory for Putin and a defeat for Biden. The joint resolution passed at the summit, which included the words “war in Ukraine” instead of “war against Ukraine,” was seen as a victory for Putin.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed gratitude to India for the joint statement issued at the summit, stating that it would unite the Global South and inspire it to achieve goals related to it. He also praised the honesty and fairness of the statement issued at the summit.
Lavrov acknowledged that the consensus reached at the Delhi Summit was the voice of their conscience and that it was an awakening for the Global South. He also expressed gratitude to India for saving the G-20 summit from politicization and foiling the West’s attempt to Ukrainianize the platform.
India held 11 ministerial-level meetings before the G-20 summit, but no common statement could be issued with consensus. This fear increased when Chinese President Xi Jinping decided not to come to India for the G-20, and Russian President Putin had already decided not to attend. However, Putin did not even attend the Bali Summit in Indonesia.
India faced a significant challenge in obtaining a joint statement at the G-20 summit. China and Russia had agreed on the language and theme of the joint statement passed at the Bali Summit, but by the time the Delhi Summit came, their stance had changed. This resulted in no consensus being reached in all ministerial-level meetings related to the G-20 in India.
On Saturday, PM Modi announced at the G-20 summit that a joint statement had been agreed upon. The final statement issued at the Delhi Summit used the language used in the Bali Declaration, which included condemnation of Russian aggression and the term “war in Ukraine. The language regarding the Russian attack on Ukraine changed completely from the Bali Declaration to the Delhi Declaration, with Russia’s name not mentioned in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar expressed his satisfaction with the passing of the Delhi Declaration, which he believes is a victory for India’s diplomacy. He emphasized that the language related to the Ukraine war in the statement issued at the Delhi Summit was polarizing and that everyone had different views on the issue. He also noted that the condemnation of Russia and its aggression was recorded in the Bali Declaration rather than the Delhi Declaration.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman stated that the G-20 did not do anything that could be appreciated in response to Russian aggression. Professor Sanjay Kumar Pandey, professor at the Center for Central Asian and Russian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that the joint statement issued at the Delhi Summit was a victory for India’s diplomacy. He argued that the West had to bow down, as Russia and China would not agree without a joint statement from the West.
Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was asked whether the Delhi Declaration was agreed upon because Indonesia, India, Brazil, and South Africa were together. He replied, “Eventually everyone helped, but emerging market countries took the lead on this matter. We have a strong history of working with them. Emerging market countries include South Africa, Indonesia, and Brazil, which are included in the G-20.
Nazia Hussain, an associate research fellow at Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that the Delhi Summit statement clearly shows that the attitude towards war in Ukraine has softened. She said that the joint statement issued at the Delhi Summit is no less than a victory. Not only Russia but also Western countries are happy with the declaration. German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz called the joint statement issued at the Delhi Summit a diplomatic success for India. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also praised the Delhi Declaration and said that a strong message had been sent to Russia.
A European Union official stated that the EU has not made any compromises with its stance on Ukraine, but Russia’s signing of the Delhi Declaration is important. America’s National Security Advisor, Jack Sullivan, also praised the joint statement, stating that the political independence, sovereignty, and integrity of any country cannot be violated by using force.
The joint statement issued at the Delhi Summit by Western countries without condemning Russia has been a topic of debate. A European Union official stated that if no joint statement had been issued, comparisons would have been made with the recent BRICS summit in South Africa, which was dominated by China and Russia. A statement on Ukraine was passed with the consent of member countries, but the West’s attitude towards Ukraine had changed from Bali to Delhi.
India’s ambassador to many Gulf countries, Talmeez Ahmed, believes that the West’s stubbornness is not very useful in such a situation, as popular support for Ukraine is decreasing even in the West. He also emphasizes India’s independence in foreign policy and its ability to work according to its interests. The joint statement issued at the Delhi Summit is seen as a manifesto for the Global South, and India should move forward on this in the coming days.
The African Union, an organization of 55 African countries, got a place in the G-20 at the Delhi Summit itself. India will also get credit for this, as after India, the presidency of the G-20 will go to Brazil, and after Brazil, it will go to South Africa. Both countries belong to the Global South and have been involved in the Non-Aligned Movement.
The consensus of all member countries on the joint statement strengthens India’s claim of diplomatic success. Sherpa Amitabh Kant in the G-20 said that this is the first declaration without a single footnote. Some experts consider it a victory for Russia, while others see it as an achievement for the West. However, it is seen as a victory for Modi’s foreign policy, and India’s influence on the world stage has increased.
India has taken the issue of the global south seriously, turning it around despite strategic competition from China. It has agreed to increase the scope of loans from multilateral development banks in G-20 countries, particularly the capacity of assistance received from the World Bank.