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G20 Presses Russia Over Ukraine

FILE: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday Nov. 15, 2022

Russia faced mounting diplomatic pressure Tuesday to end its war in Ukraine, as G20 allies and critics alike rued the painful global impact of nearly nine months of conflict.

The United States and its allies attending the G20 Summit in Indonesia backed a resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Russia's foreign minister dismissed as unwarranted politicization.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is heading his country's delegation in the absence of President Vladimir Putin, denounced the attempt to condemn Russia as politicization by Western countries that had tried unsuccessfully to include it in the declaration.

A draft communique obtained by AFP showed the world's 20 leading economies coming together to condemn the war's effects, but still divided on apportioning blame.

The summit has shown that even Russia's allies have limited patience with a conflict that has inflated food and energy prices worldwide and raised the specter of nuclear war.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the summit in a virtual address that now was the time to stop Russia's war in his country under a plan he has proposed "justly and on the basis of the U.N. Charter and international law".

He called for restoring "radiation safety" with regard to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, introducing price restrictions on Russian energy resources, and expanding a grain export initiative.

"Please choose your path for leadership - and together we will surely implement the peace formula," he said.

Lavrov said he had listened to Zelenskiy's address, adding that the Ukrainian leader was dragging out the conflict and not listening to Western advice.

Lavrov said Russia had put forward an alternative view and the draft would be completed on Wednesday.

Russia's G20 allies China, India and South Africa refrain from publicly criticizing Putin's war, and the draft joint statement is replete with diplomatic fudges and linguistic gymnastics.

But it gives a growing sense of the worldwide impact of the war.

On the eve of the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held bilateral talks meeting in which they pledged more frequent communication despite many differences.

On Monday, Biden and Xi "underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine" during their meeting, the White House said.

There was also a hint at growing Chinese unease with Russia's prosecution of the war.

"It's clear that the Russians are very isolated," said one Western official. "I think some countries engaged with Russia but... I did not see any gestures of great solidarity."

The summit opened with a plea by Indonesian President Joko Widodo for unity and concrete action to mend the global economy despite deep rifts over the war.

"We have no other option, collaboration is needed to save the world," he said. "G20 must be the catalyst for inclusive economic recovery. We should not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war."

The G20, which includes countries ranging from the United States, Russia and Brazil to India, Saudi Arabia and Germany, accounts for more than 80% of the world's gross domestic product, 75% of international trade and 60% of its population.

This report was prepared using data from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.