With the United States and the Group of Seven (G7 nations) pushing for further sanctions against Russia, differences are being ironed out with India and some other G20 partners over the language of the official communiqué which will be issued at the end of the meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG).
India is averse to using the term "war" in the communiqué, and softer terms like "crisis" are not acceptable to the G7 members, all of whom are a part of G20 as well, informed sources said. The G7's views will be more detailed in a press conference later in the day.
Meanwhile, in a separate media briefing in Bengaluru, United States treasury secretary Janet Yellen categorically stated that the US and its allies would push for further sanctions on Russia.
"In the coming months, we expect to provide around $10 billion in additional economic support for Ukraine. Russia's economy has become increasingly isolated. Estimates indicate that nearly a million Russians may have left the country last year. This is putting downward pressure on its productive capacity going forward," Yellen said.
Yellen's statement comes days after US President Joe Biden's surprise visit to Ukraine's capital Kyiv. In her remarks, Yellen mentioned Russia sixteen times and said that it's critical for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to move swiftly towards a fully financed program for Ukraine
"Continued, robust support for Ukraine will be a major topic of discussion during my time here in India," she said.
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"We have continued to see emerging markets negotiate steep discounts on Russian oil – which keeps oil on the global market but sharply reduces the Kremlin's take," Yellen added.
And therein lies the core of the differences between the G20 nations over the language of the communiqué.
India's Russian oil imports climbed to a record 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, up 9.2 per cent from December, with Moscow still the top monthly oil seller to New Delhi, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia, news agency Reuters had reported earlier. Last month Russian oil accounted for about 27 per cent of the 5 million bpd of crude imported by India, the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer.
As reported by Business Standard earlier, India does not want the discussions in Bengaluru to focus on further sanctions.
Interacting with the media, Yellen also said that the partner nations need to work together to ease the debt overhang of some low and middle-income nations. "We will continue to push for all bilateral official creditors, including China, to participate in meaningful debt treatments for developing countries and emerging markets in distress."
IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that about 15 per cent of low-income countries are in debt distress, and an additional 45 per cent are at high risk of debt distress. And among emerging economies, about 25 per cent are at high risk and facing "default-like" borrowing spreads.
Yellen also met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of G20.
Sitharaman and Yellen discussed cooperation on the evolution of multilateral development banks, strengthening health-finance coordination, and restructuring sovereign debt.