Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar speaks during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi on March 2, 2023. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Pool via REUTERS

During a meeting on Thursday in New Delhi, India, 19 of the 20 members of the Group of 20 condemned the conflict in Ukraine. Only Russia and China held out.

India is hosting the G20 foreign ministers meeting this year, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged them to find “common ground” on contentious issues as they arrive in the country. These countries include the United States, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Russia, China, Japan, and the European Union.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February of last year and continues to this day, dominated discussions on Thursday.

Since G20 members could not “reconcile positions” on Ukraine and “there were divergences” on issues related to the conflict, the meeting did not result in a joint communique, as stated by the Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

However, a document was produced as a result of the conference that showed widespread consensus on concerns for countries in the global south.

Jaishankar told the press that while there were “differences on Ukraine,” the group had been able to find agreement on a number of other issues.

Multilateralism, food and energy security, climate change, gender issues, global health, and terrorism were all areas where consensus could be found. There was a substantial convergence of viewpoints. The lack of consensus on Ukraine prevented us from issuing a unified statement, which we would have issued if all parties involved had been on the same page.

He also mentioned that for the first time, the G20 members discussed counternarcotics efforts in addition to condemning terrorism in all its forms.

The outcome of the meeting did not surprise experts, who noted that similar disagreements had plagued G20 gatherings the previous year, when Indonesia had held the bloc’s presidency.

There was no unified statement issued after the Bali meeting of foreign ministers. Rezaul H. Laskar, a foreign affairs expert and editor of Hindustan Times, told Arab News that this trend shouldn’t come as a surprise given the G20’s stark division between the G7 and other countries.

It is predicted that “one important consequence of this lack of consensus is going to be that it puts pressure on India to build bridges between G7 on the one side and China and Russia on the other side.”

India faces substantial difficulties as it tries to deal with Western pressure in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. It faces its own difficulties at the Chinese border. Thus, India would have to demonstrate more agility and confidence in its diplomatic efforts.

New Delhi’s increasing engagement with the Middle East is something that has been readily apparent in India’s efforts as it heads the G20 bloc.

Because of its position as G20 president, India will have the opportunity to invite notable individuals who are not members of the G20 to attend meetings. UAE, Oman, and Egypt are just a few examples.

Indian ex-ambassador to Oman Anil Wadhwa told Arab News that the invitations reflect strengthening ties with these nations.

“With both countries, trust has increased, and they are now active defense partners of India…

The prospect of mutually beneficial business ties and investment activity is an additional draw. India will be able to reach out to Arabic-speaking countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council and North Africa as a friend and confidante thanks to its growing ties with these nations, Wadhwa said.

Since India took over the G20 presidency in December, this meeting of foreign ministers was the second ministerial-level discussion to take place. The invasion of Ukraine was a major topic of discussion at last week’s meeting of the group’s finance ministers, which took place in Bangalore. After Russia and China attempted to water down language on the war, the meeting ended with no communique being issued.

Both the US-led West and the opposing Russia-China alliance have hardened their stances in the lead-up to the conference. That was on display at the meeting of finance ministers last week. The foreign affairs correspondent for the Indian Express, Shubhajit Roy, said that the same arguments were being made at the meeting of the G20 foreign ministers.

We recently witnessed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken say that Russia’s positions have tarnished the country’s reputation. Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, has made similar remarks. An impasse exists. The situation is so divided that nobody can agree on anything.