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The 2023 G20 Summit: Addressing Russia’s War Against Ukraine.

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Written By: François Barbieux

Edited by Miguel Andres Reyes Castro

Supervised by Ginevra Bertamini

On 9-10 September, world leaders gathered at the 18th G20 Summit to discuss the prevalent issues facing the world in New Delhi, India. This year’s edition theme: ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘one earth, one family, one future’. Issues of global economic growth along with climate concerns, digitalisation, and gender equality were on the agenda (European Council, Council of the European Union, 2023). However, one topic overshadowed all others: Russia’s war against Ukraine (Bose et al., 2023). Given the geopolitical uncertainty of current times and the spillover effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine, exemplified by Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Deal, the G20 faced the challenge and the opportunity to manage strategic rivalries, address global issues and reinforce multilateralism (Delivorias, 2023).

Notably, Chinese and Russian leaders decided not to attend the summit. This absence can be seen as an attempt to undermine the summit’s importance and especially its outcome (Delivorias, 2023). Nevertheless, the G20 reached a consensus on a declaration which, however, does not directly condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine (Bose, et al., 2023). It re-emphasizes that all states must act consistently with the UN Charter (G20, 2023). That is, “all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state” (G20, 2023, p. 2). It also recalls that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible (G20, 2023).

The declaration highlights the global consequences of the war in Ukraine, notably regarding food, energy, and macro-financial insecurity (G20, 2023). It also calls on the peaceful resolution of conflicts and emphasizes the importance of diplomacy and dialogue (G20, 2023). It further welcomes “all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine” (G20, 2023, p. 3). The Group of 20 concludes this part of the declaration with one central message: ‘today’s era must not be of war’ (G20, 2023, p. 3).

The outcome of the G20 summit regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine sparked diverging reactions across world governments. Ukraine’s foreign ministry said there was ‘nothing to be proud of’ and decried the absence of a direct condemnation of Russia (Hunder, 2023). Oleg Nikolenko, Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson, still thanked allies for attempting to advance the Ukrainian case and include stronger language in the declaration (Hunder, 2023). European leaders also praised the declaration for explicitly condemning the actions of Russia in Ukraine, even though it did not name the country directly (Bose et al., 2023). India’s foreign minister even said China supported the summit’s outcome, finding ‘common grounds on all issues’ (Bose et al., 2023). Russia did not explicitly oppose the declaration, although stating that it would block anything that did not reflect Moscow’s position, especially on Ukraine (Bose et al., 2023).

The consensus reached at the summit is interesting given the many divisions between countries regarding the war in Ukraine and other broader economic challenges (Bose et al., 2023). Despite the absence of Chinese and Russian leaders at the table (which was to be expected) and the lack of direct condemnation of the Russian aggression on Ukraine, the 2023 G20 summit remains a positive token of international cooperation and multilateralism. It showcases the ability of governments to come together, discuss, and reach a consensus on the main issues of our time, reinvigorating the importance and centrality of values of peace and collaboration for global prosperity.


Bose, N., Singh, S., C., Golubkova, K. (2023, September 9). G20 summit avoids condemning Russia for Ukraine war, calls for peace. Reuters.

Delivorias, A. (2023, September 8). The 2023 G20 Summit: A deepening rift heralding an uncertain future. European Parliamentary Research Service.

European Council, Council of the European Union. (2023, September 11). G20 summit, 9-10 September 2023. European Council, Council of the European Union.

Group of 20. (2023, September 9-10). G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration. G20.

Hunder, M. (2023, September 9). Ukraine says G20 summit declaration ‘nothing to be proud of’. Reuters.