Olaf Scholz says world must ‘avoid Putin’s trap’ and divisive claims | G7

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has argued that the world is more unified in its support for Ukraine than Russia suggests, as war dominated a G7 meeting also charged with food supply crises, climate emergency and the collapse of the world order.

“We must not fall into Putin’s trap of saying that the world is divided between the global West – the G7 and its friends in the North – and everything else. That’s not true,” Scholz told German ZDF television.

“There are democracies all over the world and they have very similar outlooks,” added Scholz, who this week is hosting the summit of the Group of Seven’s smaller industrial powers.

To prevent the G7 from being perceived as a club of wealthy people obsessed only with a war in Europe, Scholz had invited five counterparts from South Africa, India, Argentina, Senegal and Indonesia to join the discussion on world hunger, development and the environment.

However, its appeal was weakened by the fact that only 90 minutes were set aside for the summit to discuss food, health and climate. Absent was discussion of debt or the injection of new ‘special drawing rights’ funds, two issues of central interest to Africa, now widely seen as matters for discussion by the wider G20 later this year.

Environmental groups have also complained that commitments on the climate crisis in the draft G7 communiqué risk being watered down, particularly passages on an end to public sector investment in gas and a commitment to fuel-efficient vehicles. zero emissions.

None of the visiting leaders showed enthusiasm for the war in Ukraine, especially not for its effect on their economies already battered by Covid and the climate crisis. Three of them abstained from participating in the war in the key vote of the UN Security Council.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall, as chairman of the African Union, has warned that the poorest countries are “caught between the hammer of war and the anvil of sanctions”. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and current chairman of the G20, has advocated a ceasefire and offered to mediate in the conflict.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, has avoided criticism from Vladimir Putin, instead taking aim at the West for not adhering to “principles of solidarity and cooperation in equitable access to vaccines”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frustrated the West by buying Russian oil at cut prices and suddenly imposing a ban on wheat exports. The fifth guest, Alberto Angel Fernandez, the president of Argentina, the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter facing 60% inflation, also increased levies on food exports. None of them seemed seduced by Scholz’s argument for a war between democrats and autocrats.

One of the problems is the fatigue in Africa with the failure of the G7 to deliver on the promises made in the long-forgotten G7 communiqués. When G7 leaders last met in 2015, they pledged to “lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030”. Oxfam pointed out that “when the targets were set in 2015 there were 630 million hungry people, by 2021 that figure would be 950 million”.

In critical diplomacy on the food crisis, the West has belatedly gone on the offensive, insisting that Putin, not Western sanctions, is responsible for the collapse of grain exports and the price spike.

But Russia has counter-propaganda claiming its food exports are hampered by EU sanctions, which Brussels denies. Complex negotiations to reach an agreement on the safe passage of grain convoys, overseen by Turkey and the UN, have lasted a month, and some countries on the verge of famine want a solution.

The G7 is also aware that it is no longer the only game in town. China, in concert with Russia, is only too willing to expand its rival BRICS club – which includes Brazil, India and South Africa – to attract more countries outside the Western orbit and thus creating two rival multilateral orders. China has established a group of Brics Plus countries inviting foreign ministers from Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Thailand.

In a sign of the G7’s need to compete, its leaders signaled that China was unlikely to create a vacuum to fill by boycotting the scheduled November meeting of the G20 – the group of major economies that also includes Russia.

Scholz said the West had no intention of “torpedoing” the G20. Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We have to think very carefully about whether we are paralyzing the whole G20, I am not advocating that. In my opinion, the G20 is too important, also for developing countries, emerging countries, for us to let Putin destroy it.

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