India Trying to Stop G20 Calling Ukraine War a ‘War’: Reports

  • India doesn’t want the G20 to label Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “war,” per Reuters.
  • Its officials tried to convince members to refer to it as a “crisis,” but were met with pushback.
  • India’s stance mirrors that of Russia, which insists the war be called a “special military operation.”

India tried to stop G20 countries describing the war Russia started in Ukraine as a “war,” even as the conflict enters its second year, reports say.

During the group’s negotiations over a joint communique on Wednesday, India tried to convince members of the G20 to instead call the war a “crisis” or a “challenge,” both Reuters and Bloomberg reported. 

Reuters cited delegates of at least seven G20 countries for its report, while Bloomberg cited a further person familiar with the matter. None of the sources was named.

Reuters said Indian delegates tried to push for a consensus, but were unsuccessful. Meetings continued in Bengaluru on Thursday.

India’s reluctance to use the word “war” is in keeping with the Kremlin’s own preference. It also discourages the term in Russia, preferring that it be called a “special military operation,” a phrase used by Vladimir Putin when announcing the invasion.

(He has on occasion ignored his own rule and used the word “war,” but the euphemism continues to be widespread in Russian official media.)

Russia is a member of the G20 and is sending a delegation to the meetings. It was to send deputies to its finance minister and central-bank chief instead of the officials themselves, Reuters said.

China has also refused to call the war a “war,” instead terming it a “crisis,” per Bloomberg.

Although India has not explicitly sided with Russia, it has continued to economically support the country by refusing to impose sanctions and scooping up Russian oil and natural gas imports.

India’s imports of Russian oil hit a record high of 1.4 million barrels per day in January, Reuters reported, citing data from trade sources. 

“India is not keen to discuss or back any additional sanctions on Russia during the G20,” an Indian official told Reuters. “The existing sanctions on Russia have had a negative impact on the world.”

The G20’s collective hesitation over whether the war should even be called a war is a significant step back from its position in November 2022. After a meeting last year hosted by Indonesia, the group released an official declaration calling the conflict a war. 

“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine,” the declaration on November 16 read. However, the declaration noted that some member countries held “other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”

The meeting in Bengaluru is the first milestone in India’s one-year G20 presidency. It overlaps with the first anniversary of the war, which started on February 24, 2022.

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