New Delhi (Agency): The entire proceeding was marked by a tussle between the western bloc, on one hand, and Russia and China on the other. The west wanted a strong line on Russian aggression in Ukraine. The Russians, supported by China, did not want anything of that sort.
In between had come the handful of the so-called global south bloc of countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE and others, joined in by the African Union. All these countries, the third dimension in the G20 formation, are becoming more important in the global chess play.
It is this group of countries, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, which are becoming more important in the global pecking order. The Middle East countries, in particular, are increasingly powerful because of their straggle hold over liquid fuel. Their take from exports of fuel oil is rising and their heft over the affairs of the world getting more robust.
All the important players are seeking to wean them over. China has been seeking to forge stronger relations with these countries by virtue of their domination on the global oil market as a buyer.
China is increasingly becoming a more important player and the country is having a profound influence over the developing and emerging market nations. China is giving them funds, loans and infrastructure.
At the same time, Chinese economics is alienating these countries as well. So, the G7 member countries, which until now were the principal power brokers, were seeing the threat from China and Chinese wooing away the upcoming nations.
It is in that context that the developed nations saw in India an effective counterweight to China. A successful conclusion of the Delhi round of G20, ending with a consensus declaration, would boost India’s position. In short the developed world wanted India to be successful in the Leaders’ Summit.
The western world thus came down to make that critical compromise on the Ukraine texts and language. While Ukraine was important, some toning down of the rhetoric was acceptable, so long as the final document did not altogether absolve Russia of the responsibilities.
On the other hand, Russia was looking forward to avoiding an outright condemnation on account of its Ukraine war. This was for Russia the best of a bad bargain. In plain language it got away with a light castigation.
Thus, two factors were responsible for the consensus in declaration. First was the need to counter increasing influence of China among the upcoming developing countries. The second was to stall Russia from altogether upset the applecart in case of an outright condemnation. After all, India had always maintained that words would never bring an end to the war. Parleying would. The upshot is that while everybody is welcoming the final document, under the breathe no one is really happy.
Ukraine has castigated the G20 declaration in the strongest terms. The west is not exactly jubilant because the declaration did not use stone language against Russian aggression against Ukraine. Russia is happy that it is not condemned but it had to witness some strong language against its war, without being named. The European Union has been marginalised and its voice was really unheard.
China has already accused India of hijacking the G20 platform for its narrow objectives and one of its think tanks has severely criticised the declaration for fomenting further trouble in the international arena.. But later the Chinese foreign ministry officially welcomed the Delhi declaration.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been challenged with the G20 proposal for a trans-Asian railway and post bridge between Europe and Asia. China must be regretting its decision to skip the meeting. Xi’s absence gave the United States the entire podium to expiate on the virtues of democracy and push forward the American agenda.
The Delhi G20 has become a hugely important opportunity for India. Fortunately, two chance events further opened up the ground for India. The absence of China in the meeting gave the entire field open. So also the absence of Russia has spared India embarrassment of having to deal with an international pariah. Instead, India has the satisfaction that it got an opportunity to woo the middle order Middle East players, apart from the consensus document, though full of compromises. (IPA Service)
By Anjan Roy