Indonesian leaders, hoping to get members on board with a communique, have reportedly asked politicians to ease Moscow criticism Indonesian President Joko Widodo is shown chatting with US President Joe Biden last June at the G7 Summit in Germany. © Getty Images / Sean Gallup
G20 Summit host Indonesia is reportedly seeking to prevent the gathering of world leaders from becoming a Russia-bashing fest, urging Western politicians to temper their criticism of Moscow so all members can be brought on board with a communique at the end of the event.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and other officials in his government have asked Western leaders to make concessions on the extent of their anti-Russia rhetoric over the Ukraine crisis, Politico reported on Sunday, citing three unidentified diplomats with knowledge of the talks. The two-day summit will begin on Tuesday in Bali, and Widodo hopes to find enough common ground that all G20 members, including Russia and China, can agree to a group declaration.
Widodo also aims to prevent the group from following in the footsteps of the G8, which kicked out Moscow and became the G7 after Crimea voted to become part of Russia in 2014. A G7 statement earlier this month condemned Russia for its “war of aggression” against Ukraine and called for all Russian forces to be withdrawn from the former Soviet republic. The group also accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine and blasted the Kremlin for “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric.”
Such a statement wouldn’t likely find consensus in Bali, where Russia will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Several other G20 members, including China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, would be reluctant, at the least, to sign on to a communique rebuking Russia. Politico said one possibility would be to issue a more general joint statement calling for “upholding international law.”
“Obviously we can’t be as tough as we do it in G7 when you need the Russians, Chinese and Saudis to agree,” a Western diplomat told the media outlet. “The question is how much we need to delete.” The US, Canada, Japan, Australia and major European countries are among the G20 members that Indonesian officials are targeting with their pleas for softer rhetoric.
Widodo also hopes to avoid controversy over a group photo, like those typically taken at G20 meetings to show solidarity, given that some members might be reticent to line up in the same image with Lavrov. Last month, before Moscow announced that President Vladimir Putin wouldn’t attend the summit, Politico reported that White House officials were taking steps to ensure that Biden wouldn’t cross paths with the Russian leader.