G20, APEC, ASEAN: World leaders conclude three summits in Asia — with Russia firmly on the sidelines

Bangkok, Thailand

At three summits of world leaders held across Asia this past week, one thing was clear: Vladimir Putin is now sidelined on the world stage.

Putin, who has attacked Ukraine for the past nine months, ravaged Europe, crippled the global economy, refused to attend diplomatic meetings and has come under sharp criticism as international opposition to his war has intensified.

The G20 leaders’ meeting in Bali earlier this week ended with a UN resolution citing the countries’ positions expressed in other forums, including the strongest condemnation of Russian aggression. Views.

As the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit approaches in Bangkok on Saturday, leaders of its 21 economies appear poised to make similar pronouncements.

on Friday, The foreign ministers debated their joint statement for the first time after months of talks. It echoed the language expressed in Bali earlier this week and paved the way for APEC leaders. Their meeting ends on Saturday.

“The majority of members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it has caused enormous human suffering and exacerbated the existing decay in the global economy,” the document said.

The summit, as well as talks during the week, showed Putin, who is believed to have launched his invasion because the Russian leader is mired in Moscow and unwilling to even confront his main rivals. Global meetings.

Fear of political maneuvers that may occur if they leave the capital; An obsession with personal security and a desire to avoid confrontational scenes at summits – especially as Russia faces huge losses on the battlefield – are all calculations likely to play into Putin’s assessment. According to Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

At the same time, At a summit in Uzbekistan in September, the leaders did not want to draw unwanted attention to India and China, for example, where Putin had befriended Russia.

“He didn’t want to be that toxic guy,” Gabuev said.

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But even in hard-line countries against Russia, there are signs that tolerance is waning, if not from Russia itself, than against the escalation of aggression. tense energies; Food security issues and global inflation are now squeezing economies around the world.

Indonesia, which hosts the G20, did not outright condemn Russia for the invasion, but its President Joko Widodo told world leaders on Tuesday that “the war must end”.

India, a major buyer of Russian energy, has again called on the G20 to find a way to get back on track with the ceasefire, even as the West has cut off Russian oil from the West in recent months. The summit’s final statement included the phrase “Today is not a time for war,” echoing what Modi told Putin on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Uzbekistan in September.

It is unclear what position China has shifted to, with close ties between leaders Xi Jinping and Putin strengthening its strategic partnership with Russia. Beijing has long refused to condemn the invasion, or even refer to it as such. Instead, the Kremlin has spoken broadly, condemning Western sanctions and blaming the US and NATO for the conflict. This rhetoric seems to have had some dial back in recent months in its state-controlled domestic media.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed G20 leaders via video link from his office in Kyiv.

In a meeting with Western leaders last week, Xi reiterated China’s call for a negotiated ceasefire, saying his interlocutors had agreed to oppose the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. However, these comments are not included in China. Discussion record.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi later said that Xi reiterated China’s position in a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden that “nuclear weapons cannot be used and nuclear war cannot be fought.”

But Chinese foreign policy analysts, who want to maintain strong ties with Russia, are likely to remain unmoved.

“Although these statements are indirectly critical of Vladimir Putin, I don’t think it’s intended to alienate China from Russia,” said Brian Hart, co-director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Xi is speaking to an audience that wants to hear these things.”

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But Russia’s isolation is even more apparent against the backdrop of Xi’s diplomatic trips to Bali and Bangkok this week.

The Biden administration has named Beijing, not Moscow, the “most serious long-term challenge” to the global order, but Western leaders view Xi as a valued global partner, many of whom intend to meet and increase dialogue with the Chinese leader. Communication and collaboration.

In a call for peace as business leaders meet on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to be divided between Russia’s actions and tensions with China.

Citing the US-China rivalry and escalating confrontations in Asia’s regional waters, Macron said: “What makes this war unique is that it is against international rules. Russia called for “round table” and “respect international order” for all countries to have stability due to international rules.

After North Korea's ballistic missile launch, US Vice President Kamala Harris met with US allies at APEC.

That sentiment rose after a Russian-made missile landed in Poland on Wednesday, the final day of the G20 summit, killing two people. A threat to Poland’s security as a NATO member could trigger a response from the entire bloc.

An initial investigation suggested the missile was an accident within Ukraine’s missile defenses, but highlighted the potential for a miscalculation to trigger a world war.

A day after that situation, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinking pointed to what he called a “split screen”.

“What we’re seeing is a very significant surface split. Russia is targeting them because the world is working to help vulnerable people. Leaders around the world reaffirmed their commitment to the UN Charter and international rules that benefit all our people. President Putin continues to try to destroy these principles,” Blinken told reporters in Bangkok on Thursday night.

The United States and its allies are poised to deliver that message to their international partners in weeks of international meetings. Despite the strong messages, Assembling consensus on that view is not easy – and differences remain.

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Both the G20 declaration and the APEC ministerial statement acknowledged the diversity of how members voted at the UN to condemn Russia’s aggression in its resolution, with most members “strongly condemning” the war, but other views. The status of separate assessments and sanctions.”

Even speaking out with caveats is an arduous process at both summits, officials said. Indonesia’s Jokowi said G20 leaders were up until midnight to discuss a paragraph on Ukraine.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Bangkok, Thailand on November 18, 2022.

The countries in the groupings have various geo-strategic economic relations with Russia, which affect their position. But the concern in some Asian countries is that Russia is part of a U.S. push to soften Moscow, said Kantathi Suphamongkhon, a former Thai foreign minister.

“Countries do not want us to be pawns in this game,” said Suphamongkhon, a member of the advisory board of the RAND Corporation Center for Asia Pacific Policy (CAPP). Instead of framing criticism of Russia for its “violations of international law and possible war crimes,” he said, it would affect the perspective of the situation that “everybody rejects here.”

Along those lines, Russia’s rejection could also send a message to China, which has condemned an international ruling denying its territorial claims in the South China Sea and vowed to reunify with Taiwan’s autonomous democracy. Use force if necessary.

This week’s efforts could increase pressure on Putin, but the Russian leader has experienced such dynamics: Before Putin was fired in 2014 over Ukraine’s annexation of Crimea, the Group of Seven (G7) consisted of just eight. It remains to be seen whether international terms will be affected.

But without Putin, the leaders stressed this week, the suffering will continue and the international system will be blown.


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