For the first time since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has appeared at a G-20 summit. It has been a virtual meeting, with major absences such as that of the American Joe Biden and the Chinese Xi Jinping, but with the Russian leader sharing the screen two years later with other Western leaders.

From Moscow, referring to the war that his army unleashed in Ukraine, Putin said that the Kremlin has at no time rejected negotiations. “Military actions are always a tragedy. Of course, we have to think about how to stop this tragedy. Russia has never refused to engage in peace talks with Ukraine,” he stressed, addressing the rest of the group’s leaders.

Putin used the word “war” to describe the conflict instead of “special military operation”, a recurring term used by the Kremlin. The Russian president also attempted to draw parallels with the war between Israel and Hamas, comparing the Maidan revolution – which he refers to as a “coup” by Kiev – with the “extermination” of the Palestinian population. “I understand that this war (in Ukraine) and the death of people cannot but shock. And the extermination of the civilian population in Palestine, in the Gaza Strip today, is not shocking?” he asked.

Putin has made few trips outside Russia since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children. He remained hidden in Moscow, to avoid international scrutiny, during the in-person G-20 meeting held last September in New Delhi.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi again at the helm, India has chaired a videoconference summit in which Israel’s war in Gaza, as expected, has been one of the central topics, starting with the agreed four-day truce between Tel Aviv and Hamas, and the release of the first hostages held by the Palestinian fundamentalist group.

“We welcome the news of the release of the hostages,” Modi said in his opening speech. “We hope that all the hostages will be released soon. We must all work for peace and be careful that the war between Israel and Hamas does not spread. Terrorism is unacceptable and we condemn the killing of civilians,” continued the Indian leader, who has provided unconditional support to Israel since the beginning of the conflict.

Delhi, following the US position, has not demanded a ceasefire from Israeli forces and abstained in a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for an end to the offensive.

During his speech, Modi also highlighted the common concern about the negative effects of the current artificial intelligence boom, calling for countries to work together in order to bring out a series of global regulations for AI, an issue that was already on the table during the face-to-face meeting of the group in Delhi, where Modi, as he did on Wednesday, also asked that the G-20 turn to the Global South, giving absolute priority to the needs of developing nations.

Modi, who is presenting himself in the international sphere as a great bridge between Western powers and the developing world, has announced the creation of a “social impact fund” with an initial contribution of $25 million to help these countries. to meet the sustainable development goals.

G-20 member states account for more than 80% of global economic output, 60% of the population and 75% of trade, but the group has long been criticized for failing to address issues that disproportionately affect the developing countries. The most significant gesture directed at the Global South was the formal joining of the African Union group, the continental body of 55 states with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, populations and cities.

From Washington, in the absence of President Joe Biden with the excuse of his Thanksgiving Day commitments, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen participated in Wednesday’s virtual meeting. From Beijing, the one who intervened was Prime Minister Li Qiang, who already replaced Xi Jinping at the September summit. The Chinese leader, on the other hand, did appear on Tuesday at another virtual summit organized by the BRICS group, where he agreed with Putin and forcefully asked Israel to end the devastating offensive on Gaza.

During the day on Wednesday, Xi was entertained inside his house receiving the president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle, and then Vyacheslav Volodin, from the Russian State Duma, with whom he promised that China would deepen relations with Moscow.

In the screenshots that have been released from the G-20 summit, with the virtual door closed as these forums usually do, the presence of Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, one of the invited leaders, also stood out. Sánchez was absent from the meeting in Delhi due to Covid, but this time he made time in the first Council of Ministers of his new Government to connect to the massive video conference, with his monitor box paired with that of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau , another of the protagonists, but in his case due to his diplomatic crisis with India.

It was the first time that Trudeau and Modi appeared together since the Canadian accused Delhi of being involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader – a religious community originally from the Indian state of Punjab – who lived in a suburb of Vancouver. . This Wednesday, the Financial Times revealed that the United States had foiled a plot to assassinate another Sikh separatist on American soil. According to the information, Washington, privately, would have issued a warning to the Modi Government for its possible involvement in the plot.