Blinken lavrov
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, top centre, walks past Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi Thursday, March 2, 2023. Image Credit: AP

New Delhi: A meeting of top diplomats of the Group of 20 industrialised and developing nations ended Thursday in New Delhi without a consensus on the Ukraine war, India’s foreign minister said.G20 talks end in India without consensus on Ukraine war

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said there were “divergences” on the issue of war in Ukraine “which we could not reconcile as various parties held differing views.”

Last week, India was forced to issue a compromised chair’s summary at the conclusion of the G-20 finance ministers meeting after Russia and China objected to a joint communique that retained language on the war in Ukraine drawn directly from last year’s G-20 leaders summit declaration in Indonesia.

Host India had appealed for all members of the fractured Group of 20 to reach consensus on issues of deep concern to poorer countries even if the broader East-West split over Ukraine cannot be resolved.

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US, Europe allies spar with Russia

The US and its European allies sparred with Russia on Thursday over the war in Ukraine and urged the Group of 20 (G20) nations to keep up pressure on Moscow to end a conflict that they said had destabilised the world.

Russia hit back, accusing the West of turning work on the G20 agenda into a "farce" and said Western delegations wanted to shift responsibility for their economic failures onto Moscow.

Russia's war in Ukraine, now into its second year, remained in the spotlight, as expected, as the foreign ministers of G20 countries came together for a day-long meeting in New Delhi.

"We must continue to call on Russia to end its war of aggression and withdraw from Ukraine for the sake of international peace and economic stability," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, according to prepared remarks shared with reporters after his address at the closed-door meeting.

"Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia's unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine," Blinken said.

He was backed by his counterparts from Germany, France and the Netherlands.

"Unfortunately, one G20 member prevents all the other 19 from focusing all their efforts on these issues the G20 was created for," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the meeting, addressing Russia's Sergei Lavrov, according to the German delegation.

"I ask you, Mr Lavrov, to return to full implementation of New START (nuclear arms treaty) and to resume dialogue with the US. Because, as China rightly pointed out in its 12-points-plan, the threat of nuclear weapons should be opposed," she added.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar speaks during the first session of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, in New Delhi on Thursday, Mar 2, 2023. Image Credit: ANI

President Vladimir Putin last week announced Russia's decision to suspend participation in the latest START treaty, after accusing the West - without providing evidence - of being directly involved in attempts to strike its strategic air bases.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov , speaking at a UN conference in Geneva, said the US had attempted "to 'probe' the security of Russian strategic facilities declared under the New START Treaty by assisting the Kyiv regime in conducting armed attacks against them".

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said the war in Ukraine had hurt "almost every country on the planet, in terms of food, energy, inflation".

"The G20 must respond firmly, like it did at the Bali Summit. The message at Bali was clear, as G20, we need to deliver solutions that protect the most vulnerable, instead of leaving them to suffer from Russia's war," Colonna said, referring to the November meeting of G20 heads of state and governments in Indonesia.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra told CNBC that Russia was solely responsible for the war and must continue to be sanctioned.

'FARCE' Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, however, sought to blame the West for the global political and economic crises.

"A number of Western delegations turned the work on the G20 agenda into a farce, wanting to shift the responsibility for their failures in the economy to the Russian Federation," Lavrov said according to a Russian statement.

"The West creates obstacles for the export of agricultural products of the Russian Federation, no matter how the representatives of the EU convince the contrary," he said.

Lavrov also accused the West of "shamelessly burying" the Black Sea grain initiative that facilitates the export of Ukraine's agricultural products from its southern ports, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

In an inaugural address, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on the foreign ministers to find common ground on global issues.

"You are meeting at a time of deep global divisions," Modi said in a video message. "We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can."

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is visiting India, met Modi on Thursday and asked for his help in facilitaing "just peace" in Ukraine.

The G20 is an economic grouping that includes the wealthy G7 nations as well as Russia, China, India, Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, among other nations.