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G20 finance meeting to end without consensus on war in Ukraine

Spanish Minister for Economic Affairs Nadia Calvino speaks during a news conference on the sidelines of G20 finance ministers' meeting on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India. (Photo by Reuters)

Finance ministers of the Group of 20 (G20) have failed to reach a consensus on how to describe the conflict in Ukraine at a two-day summit in India.

The meeting in the Indian technology hub of Bengaluru is likely to end without a joint declaration on Saturday, given the fact that the participants were unable to resolve differences over the issue, three delegates told Reuters.

They went on to say that the United States and its allies in the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations have been adamant in demands that the declaration directly condemn Moscow for the "invasion" of its neighbor, but such language has been opposed by the Russian and Chinese delegations.

The delegates further noted that the meeting was likely to end with a statement by the host summarizing the discussions.

"In the absence of a consensus, the option for India would be to issue a chair statement," one official said.

Russia, which is a member of the G20, refers to its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation”, and avoids calling it an invasion or war.

China and India, which hold this year's G20 presidency, also refused to condemn Russia, with New Delhi pressing the gathering to avoid using the word "war" in any statement.

However, Western countries insisted that the language cannot be weaker than the declaration issued by G20 leaders in Indonesia last November.

Earlier, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was "absolutely necessary" for there to be a statement in the declaration condemning Russia.

"And I think the G7 is certainly united on that, so it's something that I would expect and I think is necessary and appropriate," she said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also said there was no way the group could step back from a joint statement agreed upon at a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.

“Either we have the same language or we do not sign on the final communique,” Le Maire told reporters on Friday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting on Friday, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner also said the G20 must not fall behind its previous criticism of Russia.

“We need absolute clarity, this is a war initiated by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he said.

Back in November,  leaders from the G20 nations met for a two-day summit on the Indonesian island of Bali to consider a 16-page draft resolution warning against the impacts of the Ukraine war on the global economy.

The group agreed on a joint statement, which said “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine” but also acknowledged some countries saw the conflict differently.

G20 ministers' gatherings have previously failed to issue joint declarations because of disagreement between Russia and other members on language, including on how to describe the war in Ukraine, which Western countries see as a Russian invasion.

Russia launched the war on Ukraine in late February following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014 Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Since then, the US and its European allies have imposed unprecedented waves of economic sanctions against Moscow while supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev. Moscow has been critical of the weapons supplies to Kiev, warning that they will prolong the war.

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