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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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The G-20 summit as evidence of a global breakdown of civilizational values

On July 7-8, a meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G20 countries was held in Indonesia, anticipating the main event - the meetings of the heads of the G20 states in November. This year's event takes place against the backdrop of Russia's all-out armed aggression against Ukraine. In the context of countering aggression in the Russian Federation, the developed democratic countries of the G7 are trying to isolate Russia, but it is extremely difficult to succeed without the participation of states located outside the Euro-Atlantic space. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the G7 states in Indonesia was to convince other countries to join the anti-Putin coalition.

At the same time, Russian diplomacy continues to search for partners who would help the state in the face of the restrictive measures imposed against it. Kremlin believes developing countries could become such partners. Russia's goal is to ensure the support or neutrality of other G20 states and further change the existing world order. In their strategy, the Russians rely on the BRICS, the importance of which is systematically emphasized in the speeches of Russian officials and like a mantra repeated by Russian ideologists. During the two days of the Foreign Ministers summit, Sergey Lavrov met with the heads of the three BRICS states: China, India, Brazil, as well as with the Turkish Foreign Minister.

The July meeting in Jakarta showed that two blocs are currently being formed: the western one, based on the values of liberal democracy, and the eastern authoritarian one. Many Asian and African countries are trying to stay on the sidelines, emphasizing their unwillingness to oppose the Russian Federation, join the sanctions and express their interest in further purchasing Russian food, resources, etc. That is, in the conditions of the new Cold War, a new non-aligned movement is also being formed. However, developing states are making a big mistake, because a unified position of the world community would be a powerful signal to the Russian leadership that there are no ways for Russia to win. At the same time, by evading condemnation of Russia for the sake of short-term stability, these states shift the responsibility for containing Russian aggression to the states of the Euro-Atlantic space, thereby contributing to the prolongation of the war. At the same time, Putin can remain hopeful that under such conditions, changing the world order to a multipolar one is still possible. And we are talking not only about the struggle of democracies against authoritarianism, but about maintaining rules-based order, restoring the fundamental principles of the UN, shamefully trampled under the boot of the Russian soldier.

The countries of the Asia-Pacific region, in the presence of the PRC, are undoubtedly interested in resolving interstate disputes in accordance with established rules, and not by the principle "might is right”. "Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow" - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated on the sidelines of the "Shangri-La Dialogue" summit in Singapore. However, currently the only states that supported the sanctions - Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand - are close allies of Western democracies. So far, Kisida's words have not received adequate support from other states of the region, in particular among the states of its central integration association - ASEAN, whose involvement would be a powerful blow to the Russian Federation.

Such an approach is illustrated by Indonesia. The country hosting this year's summit nevertheless invited the Russian dictator to participate and does not renounce its ties with the Russian Federation. At the same time, at the end of June, the President of Indonesia visited Kyiv and offered Volodymyr Zelenskyy to deliver a personal message to Vladimir Putin. Considering the priority Asian vector of Ukrainian diplomacy, this visit is a positive signal for Ukraine's further development of the ties with Asian region. However, the visit of the President of Indonesia and his proposal show that his country is trying to sit on two chairs, to demonstrate to Ukraine and its partners that they are favouring peace and are ready to become mediators, but without imposing sanctions on the aggressor. However, Ukraine already had mediators and years of negotiations within the Normandy format did not lead to positive changes. They had no prospects of contributing to a peaceful settlement, because the strategic goal of the Russian Federation is the destruction of Ukraine as a state, and the negotiations were used by the Kremlin to achieve its own political goals - the legal consolidation of the occupied Ukrainian territories and the incorporation of its own pro-Russian quasi-formations into the legal field of Ukraine in order to influence the state from within. Therefore, Ukraine does not need mediators - it needs allies. Those states that do not join the sanctions actually play into the hands of the aggressor and against Ukraine, the USA and other partners.

The US has already prepared a list of countries that help Russia circumvent sanctions. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency (FinCEN) and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the US Department of the Treasury published a list that included Armenia, Brazil, Georgia, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mexico, Nicaragua, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Tajikistan, Turkey, UAE and Uzbekistan. The United States is not a hegemon that can independently impose its will to a dozen other states. The country needs help and the question arises whether the US will get the support from  its allies. Yes, there is no unity in the Eastern bloc that did not join the sanctions, no matter how much Russian propagandists advertise BRICS. However, not all European allies currently unanimously support Ukraine in matters of sanctions. For example, on July 13, the European Commission partially conceded to Russia on the issue of transit to Kaliningrad and allowed the movement of some sanctioned goods to the Kaliningrad region by rail. There is no doubt that the decision was lobbied by Western European states, contrary to Lithuania's determination. The same situation arises in the issue of the oil embargo against Russia and the supply of tanks to Ukraine. If the current German leadership was not pressured by the opposition, the public and partner states, Ukraine would still have only German helmets.

Too many countries are trying to wear two hats in the conditions of the biggest war since the Second World War. Attempts to appease the aggressor will not solve the problem. Yes, a number of G20 countries will be able to buy Russian energy carriers or stolen Ukrainian grain more cheaply. However, these states will eventually face a new reality in which the countries of the world are unable to work together on global challenges. Energy and food security were the central topics of the G20 MFA meeting. What does a state that uses energy and food blackmail to pressure other states do in this discussion? The US has already announced that if Vladimir Putin comes to Indonesia, Joe Biden will boycott the summit. Russia's aggression hits the institutions of global governance, which have been built for years and allowed to work on solving problems of humanity. Therefore, Russia should not be on global platforms, it should be excluded, as the USSR was excluded from the League of Nations when it attacked Finland at the end of 1939. Otherwise, further global cooperation will become even more ineffective, which will lead to the decline of existing international institutions and the civilizational split of world society into East and West. In this way, Russia will achieve its goal of changing the world order.

However, in the practical aspect, such a course of events will ultimately not suit the states of any region. Even if the governments of a number of countries bet on an authoritarian bloc, they will eventually face a more anarchic environment in international relations, from which middle and small powers will lose out. Today, Ukraine and its partners defend not only the principles of democracy, but also a rules-based order. Therefore, small and middle powers should reconsider their policies. The boycott of Sergei Lavrov in Jakarta, which forced the minister of the aggressor-state to leave the summit early, should be extended. Russia needs to be isolated, and the role of the states of Asia, Africa and Latin America in this respect can become decisive. The sooner the Russian Federation loses its economic power, the more aid Ukraine receives, the sooner Russian-Ukrainian war, consequences of which already affect the whole world today, will come to an end.

1) Мінфін США назвав 18 країн, які допомагають Росії та Білорусі обходити санкції, 13.07.2022,
2) Єврокомісія частково поступилася Росії в питанні транзиту до Калінінграда, 13.07.2022,