India and the US seem headed for a disagreement over the language of the communiqué to be issued at the end of the G-20 summit later this year under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presidency with US treasury secretary Janet Yellen saying that she would pitch hard to describe the conflict in Ukraine as a “war”.
The embarrassing standoff comes at a time when the US is stepping up calls for increased financial support to the beleaguered Volodymyr Zelenskyy regime.
“I believe the communiqué is still under discussion. Certainly, we would like to see a strong condemnation of the war, the impact it has had on Ukraine and the global economic outlook, it is one of the most significant factors that is reducing growth and causing very negative spillovers, especially for low income countries,” Yellen said at a press conference in Bangalore on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
The US is readying an additional $10 billion in economic assistance to Ukraine.
On Thursday, Yellen said it was critical for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to “move swiftly” towards a fully financed programme for Ukraine.
Ukraine is seeking a $15 billion multi-year IMF programme, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Monday after meeting IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva in Kyiv.
She said, “We very much want to see the IMF negotiate an agreement to lend to Ukraine ... it is something we will emphasise in our discussions.”
Yellen met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the sidelines of the G-20 event where they discussed a number of issues relating to the global debt crisis and a unified approach towards private crypto currencies but steered clear of the prickly Ukraine crisis.
Officials told Reuters that India did not want additional sanctions against Russia to be discussed at the G-20 meeting.
The Modi regime — which has been keen to grab the opportunity afforded by the G-20 presidency to restore the Prime Minister’s image that has been battered by charges of crony capitalism and the snowballing Adani crisis — is desperate to head off the prospect of any wrinkle in New Delhi’s close relations with President Vladimir Putin who had stepped in last year to sandbag India’s energy security with the offer of cheap crude oil.
Yellen will join other finance ministers and heads of central banks from the Group of 20 nations on Friday for a meeting at a resort near the tech hub of Bangalore.
It is the first major meeting of India’s year-long presidency of the bloc, which includes wealthy G7 democracies as well as Russia, China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
“I have always expressed my own and US’ point of view that Russia’s behaviour is not only a clear violation of international law and unprovoked hostility,” she said, adding it is one of the leading factors shaping the global outlook with respect to food, energy, and harming the global outlook generally.
“We have ongoing work on sanctions, working with our partners, we are seeking to strengthen sanctions and make sure we address violations of sanctions.” Yellen also noted that Russia’s economy has become increasingly isolated and the impact of sanctions against that country for war against Ukraine is being seen.
“Since the early days of the war, we have partnered with a multilateral coalition of over 30 countries to impose severe economic costs on Russia for its brutal assault. Our twin goals are to degrade Russia’s military-industrial complex and reduce the revenues that it can use to fund its war. We are seeing the impacts of these actions,” she said.