Biden to press G-20 to hold tough on Russia over Ukraine war

Indonesia G20
Posted at 8:12 PM, Nov 14, 2022

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to cajole the world's largest economies to further isolate Russia diplomatically and economically over its invasion of Ukraine despite a souring global outlook that has tested other nations' resolve.

In meetings Tuesday at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, the U.S. leader is to continue a global tour pressing nations to stand up to Russia and in defense of Ukraine's sovereignty in both symbolic and substantive ways. The effort comes as global inflation and slowing economies have put new pressures on countries that imposed penalties on Russia for the nine-month war that has sent food and energy prices soaring.

A senior U.S. administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the summit discussions, said Tuesday that the summit's final communique will make clear that "most" of the nations condemn Russia's invasion in Ukraine, as well the toll it has taken on global food and energy supplies.

It remained to be seen how many nations would embrace the tough language or whether the document would refer to Russia's actions as a "war" — a phrase Moscow has sought to avoid, despite the devastating losses sustained by its military.

U.S. officials have said Biden's trip has demonstrated that countries large and small are willing to condemn Russian aggression. Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to virtually address the G-20 summit. It comes days after Ukraine's foreign minister was invited to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia, where it became the latest signatory to the group's treaty of amity and cooperation.

After his meeting with President Xi Jinping on Monday, Biden said he and the Chinese leader discussed Russia's aggression against Ukraine and "reaffirmed our shared belief" that the use or even the threat of nuclear weapons is "totally unacceptable" — a reference to Moscow's thinly veiled threats to use atomic weapons as its invasion of Ukraine has faltered. Chinese officials had previously largely refrained from public criticism of Russia's war, although Beijing has avoided direct support of the Russians, such as supplying arms.

The summit schedule does not include a "family photo" of leaders, which would avoid a potentially awkward moment of interaction with the Russian representative, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It remained to be seen how Biden and U.S. allies would react when Lavrov is recognized to speak during the summit's closed sessions. Some Europeans have discussed potentially walking out of the meeting in a display of protest of Russia's invasion.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said no one in the U.S. delegation had plans to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often known as MBS, after Biden accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia by leading the OPEC+ cartel to cut oil production last month in a bid to sustain the elevated energy prices that Russia uses to fund its war in Ukraine.

It also was not clear whether anyone from the U.S. delegation would meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi or other leaders whose cooperation would be essential to securing a price cap on Russian oil to limit the profits Moscow uses to invest in its defense base.

At the summit, Biden will have his first opportunities to meet with two critical new partners in that effort: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni.

Sunak, who took office last month after the disastrously short tenure of Liz Truss, has promised to continue his conservative predecessors' steadfast support for Ukraine. He and Biden are set to strategize during their Wednesday meeting on new ways to bolster Ukraine's defenses for the long haul.

Meloni has pledged to continue to provide arms and aid for Ukraine, but questions remain over her far-right coalition's commitment to stand up to Russia. She will meet with Biden privately on Tuesday afternoon.