The Indian side on Saturday circulated among G20 member states a new text to refer to the Ukraine crisis in the draft leaders’ declaration in an effort to break the impasse on the issue, people familiar with the matter said.
A draft of the declaration prepared on Friday, which most G20 member states had agreed on, had left the paragraph on the “geopolitical situation” or the Ukraine crisis blank, people from a G20 member state and a G7 member state said.
The negotiators from G20 states had hammered out an agreement on 75 other paragraphs in the draft, which included issues such as financing for climate transition, reform of multilateral development banks and regulation of cryptocurrency, the people said.
The sherpas, or personal representatives of G20 leaders, were unable to reach an agreement on the paragraph on Ukraine despite several sessions on Thursday and Friday. These sessions were held after the conclusion of the fourth and final sherpas’ meeting at Manesar on September 6.
“The Indian side circulated the draft paragraph on the Ukraine issue among the other G20 members this [Saturday] morning. It is now being considered by the other states. Some countries have no problem with the wording,” a person from a G7 state said on condition of anonymity.
Two people from a G20 state also said the draft paragraph on Ukraine had been circulated among the other member states for discussions in an effort to break the logjam on the issue.
The people described the discussions as “tough” and noted that the Ukraine crisis remained the main issue holding up consensus on the draft leaders’ declaration. The Indian side has pushed for the draft paragraph to be accepted by all states in order to ensure a successful conclusion to the summit, but the people acknowledged that the discussions are likely to be extended.
In an indication of the tough negotiations over the wording of the paragraph on the Ukraine crisis, people said there were differences on whether the issue should be referred to as the “war in Ukraine” or “war against Ukraine”. The G20 functions by consensus and objections by even one member could hold up an agreement.
In another development, the Chinese side has also pushed back against a reference in the text to the presidency of the G20 in 2026 being held by the US, two people said.
Russia and China have been holding out against any reference to the Ukraine crisis in the draft leaders’ declaration. The Russian side has said it is not willing to accept the text used in the leaders’ declaration in last year’s G20 Summit to refer to the Ukraine crisis as the situation on the ground has changed. China has opposed any mention of the Ukraine war on the grounds that the G20 is an economic forum and should not take up geopolitical issues.
All ministerial meetings held under the Indian presidency of the G20 this year were unable to issue joint statements due to differences on the Ukraine crisis.