G20: Russia-Ukraine prime on world leaders’ minds; US-China meet key

G20 Summit

Recover Together, Recover Stronger – the theme picked by Indonesia when it took over the presidency of G20 a year ago appeared apt at that time for the group of the world’s major economies fighting the effects of the Covid pandemic.

But just ahead of the November 15-16 summit of the Group of 20 in the upmarket Nusa Dua area of the resort Island, this slogan painted on buses and on billboards seems slightly dated. Russia’s war in Ukraine has piled more economic challenges onto the world, threatening food and energy shortages.

Apart from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its impact on the global economy, another event being watched with interest is a meeting expected Monday between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The relations between the two countries plummeted when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, an event Beijing saw as a deliberate provocation. Beijing reacted with a series of military exercises around the self-ruled island.


Biden flew into Bali late Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive later Monday to take part in the main sessions of the summit and some bilateral meetings, as world leaders began gathering here. Balinese dancers welcomed each delegation.

Modi will have separate bilateral meetings with a number of leaders on the sidelines of the summit but it was not immediately clear if a separate meeting between Modi and Xi is in the works.

But if that happens, it would be the first one-on-one meeting between the two since the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash. The two leaders attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistans Samarkand in September but there was no official account of them sitting down for a bilateral meeting then.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has opted out of the Bali summit and is sending foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to represent the country. But western leaders who seemed to be preparing for a possible showdown over Russias invasion of Ukraine are unlikely to back down. Russia can expect flak, for instance, when the summit discusses food and energy security, one of three sessions on its official agenda.

Britains new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his intention clear before leaving London for the meeting. This G20 Summit will not be business as usual, he declared.

There is also speculation over difficulties in drafting the summit communique, a consensus document, with the Ukraine issue becoming a stumbling block.

And there is talk that there could be trouble even when the leaders gather for the customary group photo at the end of the summit, with some possibly objecting to Lavrov being in the frame. Also, there is a possibility of host Indonesia getting Ukrainian President Vlodoymyr Zelensky to virtually address the gathering.

The G20 comprises 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the USA and the European Union (EU).

Together, they account for over 80 per cent of the global GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the world population.

Indonesias term as G20 president ends with this summit with India now set to take over from December 1.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)