In the run-up to the Group of 20 summit, Western leaders are putting pressure on India, which still tries to avoid confrontation with Moscow. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom aspires to release Ukrainian grain exports from Russian "stranglehold", Oleksii Reznikov warns his ex-colleagues about the danger of negotiating with an aggressor, and Western experts analyze the possible results of Putin and Kim Jong Un renewing a Stalin-era partnership.
In the run-up to the G20 summit: the West condemns Russia while India keeps "out of geopolitics"
Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies began arriving in New Delhi on Friday, Reuters reports. Although this year’s host India seeks to build consensus on issues such as food security, debt distress and cooperation on climate change, it risks being derailed by deeper and more entrenched divisions between the participants over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The agenda is expected to be dominated by the West and its allies since Chinese President Xi Jinping is skipping the meeting and sending Premier Li Qiang instead. The Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, will also be absent.
Still, the summit will be the most high-powered gathering ever in India, with U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Leaders of the Western world, such as U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, will urge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "call out" Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who is in New Delhi ahead of Biden's arrival on Friday, said that the most important thing that can be done to support global economic growth is for Russia to end its brutal war in Ukraine. European Council President Charles Michel echoed that view.
Representatives from the European Union and the United States offered India help to craft a communique at the end of the summit. The negotiators have made progress on most issues but the main sticking point is the language in the leaders' declaration on the war, four Indian government sources told Reuters.
Western countries want a strong condemnation of the invasion as a condition for agreeing to a Delhi declaration. India has suggested that the G20, while condemning the suffering caused by Russia's invasion, also reflect Moscow and Beijing's view that the forum is not the place for geopolitics.
Britain convenes a summit to break Russia’s "stranglehold"
The U.K. will host a global summit on food security in November, Politico reports. Its aim is to break what Russia's "stranglehold" on grain exports from Ukraine after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July.
In a release issued as he traveled to the G20 leaders' gathering in New Delhi, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said world leaders must deal "with the terrible global consequences of Putin’s stranglehold over the most fundamental resources, including his blockade of and attacks on Ukrainian grain."
The summit — set for November 20 in London — will be backed by NGOs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Downing Street said. It will aim to "tackle the causes of food insecurity and malnutrition."
According to the British government, Sunak would use the G20 summit to urge his counterparts to make clear that Putin's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative has increased Russia's global isolation and protect those whose lives have been devastated by Putin’s illegal war.
Reznikov warns: Russia won’t give up trying to destroy Ukraine
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s former defense minister published an opinion piece in The Guardian, warning his western counterparts that negotiations with Moscow will not bring peace, and that Vladimir Putin remains determined to destroy Ukraine entirely.
Reznikov argues that any "deal" with the Kremlin would not end the conflict since Russia would use the truce to buy some time, regroup and "finally solve the Ukrainian issue."
"Its goal is the destruction of Ukrainian statehood and assimilation of Ukrainians," the ex-minister wrote
Oleksii Reznikov likened calls for Ukraine to make territorial concessions to international demands in 1938 that Czechoslovakia give up Sudetenland to Nazi Germany. The Third Reich eventually obtained complete control over what the country, including its military arsenal.
Reznikov resigned on Monday, following procurement scandals at the defense ministry. The Guardian believes that he was not personally involved in corruption schemes, and was moved on because of PR failings. Diplomatic sources say he may become Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.K.
The ex-minister’s remarks came as Ukraine’s counteroffensive makes slow progress. Despite some recent successes, its troops have yet to liberate a large swathe of southern Ukraine, occupied by Russia.
The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who visited Kyiv on Wednesday, said there was little prospect of "meaningful diplomacy" with Moscow. Blinken held talks with Zelenskiy and praised Ukraine’s success on the battlefield.
But some western allies have suggested Ukraine will have to compromise. Thus, in August, Stian Jenssen, chief of staff to NATO’s secretary general, prompted fury in Kyiv when he said Ukraine might have to give up some land to Russia, in return for peace and NATO membership. Jenssen later apologized.
In his Guardian article, Reznikov says that Putin, unless checked, will not stop at Ukraine.
"Letting Russia obtain Ukraine’s resources … will only increase the Kremlin’s ambitions and lead to a new big war in eastern Europe, which will inevitably involve NATO — with all the resulting risks," he writes.
The solution Reznikov proposes is the restoration of Ukraine’s 1991 borders, the withdrawal of Russian troops, reparations, and "the punishment of war criminals". He also wants Ukraine’s integration into security pacts and "amendments to international law" to prevent "similar aggressions" in the future.
Pyongyang and Moscow: will the new alliance of old friends change history?
Russia’s failures on the battlefield in Ukraine could turn into a win for North Korea, according to analysts interviewed by CNN. In their view, a possible meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin could lead to Pyongyang getting its hands on the sort of weapons two decades’ worth of United Nations’ sanctions have barred it from accessing.
On Monday, the U.S. National Security Council claimed arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea were "actively advancing," after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July in an attempt to convince it to sell artillery ammunition to Moscow. The U.S. also believes there could be a Putin-Kim meeting in the near future.
The Russian army, which has been fighting in Ukraine for more than a year and a half, is depleted and in need of supplies. Meanwhile, North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions aimed at hampering its ability to build a fully functioning nuclear weapons and ballistic missile force for 17 years.
"Russia has the military technology that Kim wants for his illegal satellite launch and nuclear weapons delivery programs," said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
Despite the UN sanctions, Kim has tested dozens of missiles for the past two years, including intercontinental ballistic ones that in theory could deliver a nuclear warhead over the US mainland. But experts express doubts over the real capabilities of these missiles.
However, Were Kim to get his hands on technology from Russia, a world leader in nuclear missile forces for decades, it would be a great boost for his programs and a great concern for leaders in the West, analysts said.
A deal between Pyongyang and Moscow could also provide North Korea with resources it lacks due to the long years of sanctions such as cash, food, energy, says Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.
Since military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang dates back to 1950, there are many similarities in their weapons stocks that could be useful to Russia.
"Its artillery and ammunition is very good. It’s very similar to Russian designs,"Schuster said.
However, Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, argues that North Korean ammo could help replenish depleted Russian stocks but are not going to change the direction of the war.
Experts also underscore the problems with the delivery of North Korean ammunition from Vladivostok in the east to Moscow in the west over the Trans-Siberian Railway for a distance of more than 9,000 km.
Much of the equipment on the rail line is from the late Cold War era, said Trent Telenko, a former quality control auditor for the US’ Defense Contract Management Agency who has studied Russian logistics.
"Overstressing Cold War era transportation is a seriously stupid idea on a lot of levels. And that is exactly what the Russians are doing," Telenko said.