Jokowi seeks to ‘unite’ G-20 in talks with Ukraine, Russia

The US and its allies have sought to punish Putin in as many ways possible, including a threat to a boycott of the upcoming G-20 summit.


Participants listen to the opening address by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (on screen) during the opening of the Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting in Jakarta on Feb. 17. (AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

May 3, 2022

JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he had spoken to both the leaders of Ukraine and Russia to lend them Indonesia’s support for peace efforts, a move seen to be an attempt to unite a Group of 20 forum divided by the ongoing conflict.

As this year’s G20 president, Indonesia has sought to remain neutral in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, refusing to condemn Moscow beyond its flagrant violation of sovereignty.

The United States and its allies in the Group of Seven industrialized nations – a subset of the G20 – have sought to punish Putin in as many ways possible, including by threatening a boycott of the G20 summit to be held later this year, unless Russia is removed from the forum.

The government has been mulling over a more grounded alternative by inviting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to the summit, in hopes this would appease proponents of Ukraine and Russia and limit any distraction from the forum’s priority agenda items.

Ukraine is not a member of the forum, but Russia is.

Jokowi confirmed the move on Friday, saying he had invited Zelensky to the G20 summit and offered Indonesia’s support in a phone call on Wednesday. Previously, both leaders tweeted about their discussions, though only Zelensky made mention of the G20 invitation.

The President also refused a request by Ukraine’s leader to provide the country with military support but added that Indonesia would send humanitarian assistance instead.

“I affirmed to him that in line with our constitutional mandate and foreign policy principles, Indonesia is prohibited from offering any military assistance,” Jokowi said in a live video statement.

“I conveyed my hope for the war to end and that peaceful negotiations are put forward.”

As the war enters its third month, Ukraine has been able to withstand Russia’s aggression, in no small part thanks to military support from the members of NATO, which Kyiv had sought to join but Moscow deems a national security threat.

Zelensky’s attendance to the G20 summit would “depend mainly on the situation in the battlefield”, Vysotskyi Taras, a senior Ukrainian government official, said on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters.

Meanwhile, Jokowi said he had also spoken with Putin over the phone on Thursday, reiterating his call for a peaceful resolution and that Indonesia stood ready to offer assistance.

“I emphasized that Indonesia wants to unite the G20 and avoid any fractures. After all, peace and stability are key to the global economic recovery,” the President said.

Jokowi added that Putin reaffirmed his attendance at the G20 summit.

In addition, Jokowi said he had spoken to many G20 leaders, as well as with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Over the past two months, he said, he had connected with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte – all about the preparations for the summit. Indonesia will host the G20 Summit in Bali in November. (tjs)

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