As the world gathers in Bali, Indonesia for the 17th Leaders' Summit of the G20 to discuss the worldwide crises resulting from the Ukraine war, such as food insecurity, global economic misery, and the European energy crisis, all eyes will be on Russia.
Today, November 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi departs for the Indonesian island of Bali to attend the two-day summit beginning November 15. Although the specifics of the PM's bilateral meetings have not been confirmed, authorities have stated that there would be several.
The turnover of the G20 leadership to India after the meeting would be the summit's high point for New Delhi. India has a significant influence on foreign policy thanks to this role, which also sets the tone for many of its priorities.
The most recent meeting takes place amid trade uncertainty, global shipping issues, and currency volatility all related to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Instead of attending the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin has assigned Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to do so.
Since the start of the war in February, Lavrov has consistently been shunned by foreign ministers and Western leaders, and his interactions at international summits have remained tense.
The G20, a coalition of the top 20 economies in the world, is the principal platform for cross-border economic cooperation, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the global population, over 75% of worldwide commerce, and a little over 85% of global GDP.
According to the host nation, Indonesia's announcement made last week, the summit is also anticipated to result in the Leaders' Declaration, which will assist in the acceleration of the global recovery. Indonesia is urging other countries to contribute more money to the Pandemic Fund, a $1.4 billion fund established to combat the next global health pandemic.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said he will stress to visiting leaders the need to set aside at least $31 billion for the Fund in addition to seeking strategic advice for it.
Risk of an impasse
However, given that the US and Russia disagreed on the text of the leaders' declaration at the 17th East Asia Summit on Sunday, there is a significant chance that the G20 nations won't reach an agreement (EAS). Putin was not present at the EAS, which was held on November 12 and 13.
The language for a joint statement, a crucial diplomatic weapon for indicating changes in world geopolitics, could not be agreed upon by Russia and the US. In a post-summit press conference, Lavrov claimed that after disagreements on several subjects, the US and its allies were seeking to militarize Southeast Asia.
According to officials, this would make it more challenging for both parties to share the same viewpoint at the G20, an event that is distinguished by the attendance of many of these Western allies.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc of 10 nations and the group's dialogue partners, India, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, United States, and Russia, meet annually.
Policy observers believe that the East Asia Summit had a key role in bringing China and the US together on the Ukraine problem. For the first time in two years, US President Joe Biden and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met behind closed doors.
Keqiang criticized the reckless threats of nuclear attacks in a not-so-subtle dig at rhetoric from strategic ally Russia. He also talked at length about Beijing's approach to Ukraine.
Modi will make use of the occasion to extend invitations to the other G20 leaders for the upcoming summit, which will be hosted in India in September 2023. According to officials, India will be primarily focused on gaining support for its agenda during this year's summit because it will be assuming the G20 leadership for a year.
The PM will discuss the main areas for India's presidency, according to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Sunday. Environment and gender concerns are two of these.
But most importantly, he will advocate on behalf of India for the global south to have a stronger voice in discussions about international economic cooperation and the need for modernized institutions.
According to sources, India would make an effort to serve as a unifier since it has recently established bilateral and multilateral ties with the majority of G20 nations. However, considering the recent turn in world events, the job might be challenging. Modi stated last week that the world is in a crisis and is in disarray as India takes on the G20 leadership.
About 200 meetings in 32 different sectors will be held at various locations throughout India by India while it holds the G20 presidency.
One of the most prestigious international events to be hosted by India would be the 18th Heads of State and Government Summit of the G20, which will take place in New Delhi in December 2023.
Additionally, Modi will tour a mangrove park and meet with the local Indian population in Bali. India joined the Mangrove Alliance for Climate project last week after it was introduced at the COP27 climate meeting taking place in Egypt. The United Arab Emirates and Indonesia are the two countries leading the seven-nation project.
Due to geopolitical, economic, and other factors, the G20 summit in Bali could be "among the most or perhaps the most challenging of all G20s." The Indonesian newspaper Jakarta Post makes a heartfelt plea to world leaders: "Please don't come to Bali simply to squabble." Such a direct appeal highlights the enormous challenges and complexity that Indonesia is facing in hosting the G20 conference.
The July conference of foreign ministers served as a preview of possible events at the next G20 summit. The war between Russia and Ukraine will be the focus, according to US officials. Russia is being criticized and even excluded from the G20 by the US and some of its allies.
There should be a cap on what the US can accomplish on global multilateral fora. The G20 is a unique forum where leading economies can coordinate policy and find practical answers to pressing issues. History demonstrates that if all nations work together to solve the issues, they can prevent the globe from entering a recession.
Worrisome is the possibility that some deranged Western politicians would try to bring these poisonous tendencies to a worldwide scale. The good news is that many nations continue to support multilateralism and responsible policymaking.