Biden Administration Defends G20 Statement Omitting Mention of Russia

The Biden administration is defending a declaration from this weekend’s Group of 20 summit in New Delhi that failed to specifically condemn Russia for invading Ukraine.

The final joint statement was a change from last year’s meeting in Bali, which named Russia as the aggressor in Ukraine. The New Delhi statement was considered a compromise between G20 members that reflects their disagreements on who bears ultimate responsibility for a war that has resulted in nearly half a million casualties and the destruction of several cities in Ukraine.

Rather than directly condemn Moscow, the G20 statement said all countries “must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.”

Despite the omission, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday called it a strong statement and said it shows that G20 members support ending Russia’s “war of aggression” against Ukraine.

“The leaders here all stood up very clearly, including in the statement, for Ukraine’s sovereignty [and] for its territorial integrity,” Mr. Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Leader after leader in the room made clear that, for the rest of the world, too, the consequences of what Russia has done are having a terrible, terrible impact.”

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the statement “does a very good job” of standing up for the principle that countries can’t use force to seek territorial gain or violate the sovereignty of other states.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, said Kyiv appreciates the attempts by some G20 members to insert more forceful language into the statement. But the omission of Russia is “nothing to be proud of.”

“The participation of the Ukrainian side would allow [G20] participants to better understand the situation,” Mr. Nikolenko said on  Facebook. “The principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains.”