‘Not G19’: Why Indonesia won’t bar Russia from the G20 | Russia-Ukraine war News

Medan, Indonesia – Indonesia is “consulting” with other members of the G20 amid growing calls to ban Russia from the November summit of an economic forum in Bali.

Some members of intergovernmental group 19 countries and the European Union have threatened to boycott the event if Russian President Vladimir Putin and delegates from Moscow are allowed to attend, prompting Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is better known as Jokowi. and holds the presidency every year this year, in a position full of potential.

“Sadly, this is the fate of President Jokowi,” Kosman Samosir, a lecturer in international law and associate dean of the law faculty at the Catholic University of Santo Thomas in Medan, Indonesia, told Al Jazeera. “Of course this has to happen now, when Indonesia has the presidency, and faces the prospect of being expelled by Russia or risking a boycott of members and the whole forum failing.”

According to Angelo Abil Wijaya, head of project management and research at Y20 Indonesia, the youth group that officially participated in the G20 Leaders Summit, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

He told Al Jazeera: “Indonesia has invested a lot in its presidency in the G20 and has been preparing for this presidency for many years.

“Indonesia wants its presidency to be successful. To be successful, the G20 needs 20 members. Of course, we want to see the success of the Indonesian G20, not the G19, or other Gs combinations consisting of less than 20 members.”

The G20 includes not only developed economies such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan, which have moved to impose tough sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but also countries like China. Quoc has done more surroundings approach.

“It is an inevitable fact that Putin’s presence at the G20 will cause many countries to boycott this event. It is hard to imagine any level of diplomacy that could change this, much less a radical change in the situation in Russia and Ukraine,” said Ian Wilson, lecturer in political and security studies at Murdoch University in Perth, told Al Jazeera.

This week’s meeting of G20 finance ministers gave some indication of what could be ahead as representatives from the US, UK and Canada go out of the closed session in Washington when the Russian delegates began to speak.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who chaired the meeting, said the meeting “wasn’t a complete surprise” and it did not prevent discussion from continuing.

China, which does not condemn Russia’s aggression despite friendly relations with Ukraine and as the world’s No. 2 economy as a leading member of the G20, did not join the boycott. On Thursday, President Xi Jinping, who has developed close relationship with Putinonce again condemned the sanctions of the developed countries against Russia.

“The focus of the G20, and why it was founded, is on economic and business discussion. If you want to discuss issues of war and national security, then you need the United Nations,” said law lecturer Samosir.

The spirit of ‘independence’

Indonesia was a founding member, along with countries including India and Egypt, of the 1961 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – a forum of 120 countries informally affiliated with or against any power bloc. major during the Cold War.

The spirit of NAM continues to inform Indonesia’s foreign policy, maintaining what it calls a “bebas-aktif” approach to international affairs – its “independence” stance and role ” active” in global governance.

Jakarta has so far insisted that it still plans to invite the leaders of all 20 members to the summit.

On Thursday, former Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Australia’s The Age newspaper that Indonesia should invite Ukraine to the summit not only to assuage the concerns of those who have threatened to boycott the event, but also to make the most of the “precious opportunity” to end conflict and resolve its economic consequences.

The Indonesian government said it will continue to consult with G20 members and other stakeholders on this issue.

Sukarno lounging in the back seat of a convertible next to John F Kennedy during his visit to the US
Founding President of Indonesia Sukarno was one of the architects of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1960s, which aimed for a middle path during the Cold War. [File: AP Photo]

Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi is currently drafting a report for President Widodo with recommendations on how to proceed.

Indonesia was initially slow to publicly resolve the conflict in Ukraine but was among 141 countries last month to back a UN resolution condemning the invasion.

But Indonesia’s reticence towards Russia is also part of a more complex political picture that reflects Jakarta’s own relationship with Moscow, as well as its role in the region.

“Indonesia has decided to buy advanced fighter jets from Russia, especially the Sukhoi SU-27 and SU-30, and is in talks to buy the SU-35 fighter jets before the plan is canceled due to concerns. afraid of US sanctions,” Yohanes Sulaiman, a lecturer in International Relations at Jenderal Achmad Yani University in Bandung, told Al Jazeera.

“Indonesia needs Russia as an alternative weapons supplier, so it won’t be completely dependent on the US.”

Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia, and Sulaiman added that, geopolitically, the country is also concerned about the growing presence of China or the United States in an area it considers is his backyard.

“Due to its sheer size, Indonesia considers itself a natural leader in Southeast Asia. Indonesia does not trust both China and the United States because there is a long history of the two countries interfering in Indonesia’s internal affairs,” he said.

“Indonesia doesn’t want a Russia that is completely isolated and too close to China.”

Learn from the past

This is not the first time tensions have flared between Russia and other G20 members.

In 2014, when Australia held the G20 presidency, Putin left the November summit in Brisbane two days early after being reprimanded by members of the forum for supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He was also tasked with the deaths of 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which was destroyed shoot down with a Russian-made missile over eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists in July 2014. Moscow has denied any involvement in shooting down the plane.

At the start, Putin said he needed to catch up on sleep and accused Western countries of “turning off the power” by imposing economic sanctions on Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Indonesian President Joko Widodo in the presidential palace in Jakarta
In December, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jakarta [File: Agus Suparto/Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP Photo]
Indonesian President Joko Widodo meets a senior Russian official at the presidential palace in Jakarta
Mr. Widodo also met a top Russian official the same month. Indonesia looks to Russia as an arms supplier but also because it is wary of US and Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. [File: Lukas/Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP Photo]

This February invasion prompted even tougher sanctions.

“The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had more impact and is more likely to happen prolonged crisis ,” Dandy Rafitrandi, a researcher in the economics department of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Al Jazeera.

He added that Indonesia should learn from the 2014 failure, but also focus on the importance of the forum for all stakeholders as a way to avoid boycotts.

“The story could be that the interests of low- and middle-income countries, still in the process of economic recovery, could turn out to be very costly if G20 agendas are thwarted, for example. such as Special Drawing Rights, Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and plans. to establish the Global Health Fund. These issues certainly need input from developed countries as resource owners,” he said.

Besides boycott pressure, the region also faces domestic struggles, including the ongoing conflict in Myanmar. The diplomatic efforts of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Indonesia, to date making no progress with the military government.

The defeat may have left some wondering whether a similar softball approach to Russia is the best strategy.

“Indonesia’s position is partly confounded by its desire to maintain diplomatic relations with a country currently engaged in a brutal war of aggression by a sovereign state, a war of aggression,” said Wilson. The war was almost condemned by everyone.”

“The challenge and risk with an inclusive diplomatic approach is that it can serve to legitimize worst-case behavior while undermining international efforts, such as ASEAN’s inability to censor effectively Myanmar’s post-coup regime.”

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