Not on the same page?
The last-minute visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the G7 summit had a consolidating effect on the member countries’ central agenda of denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Earlier, the three-day gathering of G7 countries in Hiroshima — also attended by India, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam — had discussed security challenges in Asia and outreach to the developing world. But eventually, all other discussions faded into insignificance as the West’s condemnation of Russia and China assumed centre stage. The host country, Japan, too, expressed its commitment to ensuring a “strong backing for Ukraine from every possible dimension.” India, at the same time, urged the international community to “raise its voice against unilateral attempts to change the status quo.” This general statement, evidently, was not just aimed at Russia, but also China which has kept India embroiled in a series of border tensions, threatening its territorial integrity. However, given the context of the summit, it can predominantly be attributed to the situation in Ukraine. Ostensibly, the Euro-American countries of G7, the host nation Japan, and India, all appear to be in unison in condemning the Russia-Ukraine war. However, there are slight differences in the approaches of all three. Starting with the host nation, Japan is the only member of the G7 that doesn’t necessarily reflect the Euro-American view of the world. It is also a nation that had deliberately restricted itself to the path of peace after two of its cities were literally destroyed on account of war bombing. Ironically, one of those two cities, Hiroshima, hosted the president of the USA — the nation that had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki — as a G7 participant. The G7 participants also visited the peace memorial for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing and signed a special “Hiroshima Vision Statement on Nuclear Disarmament”. Japan’s call for peace and solidarity in Ukraine can be read in this regard. For all other G7 members, the approach towards ending the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been about punishing and condemning Russia, and dragging the arch rival China at the same time. If anything, the West has contributed only in keeping Ukraine in the war through its weaponry and other assistance. Though this might be an important intervention, the West has done little to resolve the conflict. It won’t be an overstatement to say that the West, amid the Russia-Ukraine war, has anchored the race for weaponry procurement and assault — prolonging the battle beyond sight. On the contrary, the real global sufferers, apart from the warring nations, have been the developing countries facing acute fuel, food, and fertiliser crises. The discourse around the misery, death and displacement of people on account of the war has taken a backseat, with diplomatic rivalry grabbing all the limelight. It is here that India’s emphasis on dialogue-based resolution makes complete sense. India is aware about the adamance of Russia, misery of Ukraine, and opportunism of the West. While India’s previous actions to avoid backing sanctions on Russia and carry out oil trade with the country can be seen through the prism of national interest, it might also be the denouncement of the US’ proven tactics of using sanctions to serve its national interests and ambitions amid global turbulence. The Western and Indian approaches to resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict appear to be opposites of each other. The Indian prime minister also did not fail to point out the inadequacy of the United Nations in preventing the conflict. This was a covert attack on the international organisation that is fast losing its sheen and relevance. It was also a veiled rebuke against certain nations that have been producing stumbling blocks in the path of UN reforms. India, which has been making a case for UN reforms for well over two decades, has only highlighted something that is now widely admitted — the failure of the United Nations to remain relevant amid the changing nature of geopolitical conflicts. Essentially, the G7 summit had undertones of mistrust and misalignment. Can the G20 summit fare better in chalking out a more comprehensive framework for bringing the world out of the chaos it is trapped in?