During a short conversation on the sidelines of a G20 meeting, Blinken conveyed to Lavrov that the US will continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary

The war in Ukraine and international divisions overshadow G20 summit

photo_camera AFP/OLIVIER DOULIERY - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi

Despite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to put the challenges and problems facing the global south at the centre of the G20 agenda, the war in Ukraine, as well as international tensions, have once again been the main topics of this summit that brings together the Foreign Ministers of the world's most powerful and emerging economies.

Modi, who aspires to position himself as one of the leading voices of the global south, expressed his hope and desire to achieve "common and concrete goals" during the opening of the summit. "I trust in the collective wisdom," the Indian leader acknowledged. New Delhi expects food and energy security, inflation and plans to combat terrorism to be among the main issues at the summit.  

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However, Modi also acknowledged that the summit is being held "at a time of global divisions", so it is "normal" that the meeting will be affected "by the current geopolitical tensions".

"As the world's leading economies we also have a responsibility to those who are not in this room. We must not let the problems we cannot solve together get in the way of those we can," Modi stressed.

The G20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. In addition, this year's invited nations under India's chairmanship include Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. 

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However, despite India's plans, Ukraine has once again overshadowed this international summit, as it did the one held in Bali last November. "Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia's unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had a short conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

During the 10-minute conversation, Blinken assured Lavrov that the US would stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes to end the war. The secretary of state also used the occasion to call on Moscow to reverse its decision to suspend the New START nuclear treaty, as well as the release of Paul Whelan, who is being held in Russia, a senior US official told the AP.  

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The source did not discuss Lavrov's response to the US demands, but stressed that Blinken did not get the sense that Russia's attitude would change in the short term.

From New Delhi, EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has also alluded to the conflict in Ukraine, calling on Russia to stop it and withdraw. "As long as this does not happen, we will support Ukraine and keep the door open to any kind of perspective that could bring peace," he said. Borrell also stressed that the war "must be condemned".

"Russia must feel the pressure," a senior EU official told EFE. The source also revealed that Western countries will seek a joint statement condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, although he acknowledged that this will be a difficult task because "Russia is receiving strong support from China"

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Russian diplomatic chief Sergei Lavrov has responded to Blinken and all those foreign ministers who have condemned the invasion and urged Moscow to withdraw troops from Ukraine. "I apologise to India for the indecent behaviour of some Western delegations who wanted to turn the work of the G20 into a farce," said Lavrov, who announced that he would meet at least seven foreign ministers on the sidelines of the summit.

Among them was Turkish Foreign Minister Mevl眉t 脟avusoglu, with whom he discussed the Ukrainian grain export deal. Lavrov also spoke with his Brazilian counterpart, Mauro Vieira, and his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. With both he discussed bilateral cooperation and, in the case of Vieira, agreed to "further strengthen the whole range of Russian-Brazilian strategic partnership relations".

Lavrov has again called for an end to sanctions against Moscow, which he described as "forms of violation of the freedom of international trade and market manipulation". 

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Blinken in Central Asia 

Before travelling to India for the G20 summit, Blinken visited Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, two countries that Russia continues to consider as part of its traditional zone of influence.

While in Tashkent, Blinken noted that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had "fomented deep concern throughout the region". The US diplomat noted that if a powerful country like Russia "is willing to try to erase the borders of one sovereign neighbour by force", there is nothing to stop it from doing the same to others.

The US Secretary of State has expressed Washington's commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence not only of Ukraine, but also of the countries of Central Asia. 

Americas Coordinator: Jos茅 Antonio Sierra