Zelensky won’t attend G20 summit in India, New Delhi confirms

Ukraine had earlier pushed for the president’s participation in summit that will be held in Delhi

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 08 June 2023 11:14 BST
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Zelensky takes part in family photo with world leaders at G7 summit

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Volodymyr Zelensky will not attend the main G20 conference as invites for the summit this year were sent out only to the members of the Group of 20, host country India has confirmed.

The confirmation by Delhi has put an end to speculation and expectations that Mr Zelensky would participate in the event that will bring together world leaders of major economies in Delhi.

Mr Zelensky had recently met Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Hiroshima, Japan on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

Speaking during a special press conference marking nine years of the foreign policy of the Narendra Modi government, foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said invitations were being sent out to G20 members only.

Mr Jaishankar said the topic of extending an invitation to Mr Zelensky was not even discussed after a final list was announced at the start of India’s G20 presidency this year.

“G20 participation is for members of G20,” Mr Jaishankar told reporters on Thursday. “And for countries and organisations who we have invited and that list we had declared as soon as we assumed presidency of the G20.”

“It is not something we have reviewed and it is not something very honestly we have discussed,” he added.

India, which has taken a neutral stance in Russia’s Ukraine invasion, was facing the questions over the participation of the Ukrainian president following Indonesia’s footsteps.

The country had invited Mr Zelensky to attend the summit in Bali virtually. Indonesia was the G20 host in 2022.

Any invite to Mr Zelensky, however, remained a tall order for India which has historically strong ties with Russia in both diplomacy and trade.

Delhi also stepped up purchases of Russian energy since the invasion and continues to remain the largest buyer of weapons from Moscow.

Ukraine had urged the participation of Mr Zelensky in the G20 summit during its first deputy foreign minister’s visit to New Delhi on 11 April.

“Presidency of G20 brings additional responsibility to India. My message during the visit is, let us consider participation of Ukrainian officials at the G20 summit to be held in India,” Emine Dzhaparova said.

“During the September G20 summit, my president will also be happy to speak up on behalf of the Ukrainian people,” she said, calling Russia’s war against Ukraine “unprovoked”.

During the briefing to give an overview of India’s nine years of foreign policy, where he touched upon various topics, Mr Jaishankar spoke about the country’s unshakeable ties with Moscow despite various world events.

He said “India’s ties with Russia have remained steady” since the Cold War period which fluctuated relationships between every other country.

“We didn’t let the Ukraine issue affect our ties with Russia,” he said, adding that it is because “the leaderships of both India and Russia understand the importance of steady India-Russia relations for stability in Eurasia”.

He said the world perceives India as a “credible” and “effective” development partner under Mr Modi’s leadership.

The address by Mr Jaishankar comes as Mr Modi prepares for the 2024 national elections. The foreign minister is at the helm of the BJP’s month-long campaign to spread awareness about the Modi government’s achievements.

“Today, the second image of India is that of an economic collaborator,” he said.

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