Russian-flavoured peace. On Wednesday, G-20 leaders convened virtually for a summit and touched upon the two military conflicts at the centre of their debate – Ukraine and the Middle East. Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in it (a rare instance of him coming face-to-face with Western leaders, albeit from behind a screen) and drew an affected parallel between the latter and the former crisis, spinning both in a classic Russian propaganda tale.
- He highlighted that what’s going on in Ukraine is a “tragedy” that must be stopped and stressed that Russia had “never refused” to take part in peace negotiations – while conveniently overlooking that Moscow started the ongoing invasion, actively bombs civilian areas and claims Ukrainian territories as its own, including some it does not occupy.
- Seeking to cast his country as a peaceful power and its adversaries as the real evildoers, he also highlighted the Israeli operation in Gaza and accused the West of double standards because of their stance on the Israeli-Hamas war.
There is indeed a path to peace in Ukraine, and it entails Russia withdrawing its occupation forces from Ukrainian territories, said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in a later joint presser with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (she was in Berlin to sign the Italy-Germany Action Plan). “We must not forget that there is an aggressor and a victim,” she said.
- She also commented on his rare appearance, positing that it was “easy to do it by videoconference without having to move from Moscow” and that the G-20 summit presented him with “an opportunity for political visibility” and to “defend his positions.”
- The International Criminal Court’s arrest mandate for the Russian leader is a key reason for his reticence to travel in person.
- Then PM Meloni reiterated her condemnation of Moscow’s actions against Kyiv, “including for their global consequences and the damage they have caused to the poorest nations.”