India doesn't want to be dragged into either camp
India is seeking to convince Moscow and Beijing to go along with a consensus on describing Russia's war in Ukraine, similar to the one reached by leaders of the Group of 20 nations last year, a senior official with knowledge of the matter said.
Efforts are on to bridge differences ahead of the meeting of G-20 foreign ministers starting later Wednesday, the official said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The latest round of meetings of the grouping come as Vladimir Putin's war has entered a second year.
A meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank heads over the weekend failed to reach a consensus on the language to describe Russia's aggressions in Ukraine, forcing host India to issue a chair's summary instead of a traditional joint communique. Russia and China deviated from the Bali formula, objecting to the use of the word 'war,' Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said after the finance heads' meeting ended.
The official said New Delhi had also pushed at the finance heads' summit to stick to the language of the Bali G-20 statement from last November. However, it was unable to get China and Russia to agree, resulting in an impasse.
Just hours ahead of the foreign ministers' meeting Russia's Foreign Ministry, in a statement, accused the US and the European Union of "terrorism" and of instigating its aggression in Ukraine, hinting at the difficulties New Delhi is set to face to get all the member nations on the same page.
"We are set to clearly state Russia's assessments of the current security, energy and food situation," the statement added.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs did not immediately comment.
At last November's summit, the joint declaration referred to the "war in Ukraine" but not "Russia's war in Ukraine" to get as many G-20 leaders to sign off as possible.
Beijing and Moscow's coordinated moves at G-20 illustrate a growing closeness even as the many nations led by the US have imposed stringent sanctions to isolate and punish Russia for its war in Ukraine. India, which is buying increasing amounts of discounted crude and is heavily dependent on military hardware from Russia, doesn't want to be dragged into either camp.
New Delhi's primary focus is to make the G-20 a success, the people said without clarifying whether India would again publicly name countries that deviate from the Bali consensus and block a joint statement.