When world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine, a familiar sentence stood out from the 1,186-page document.
“Today’s era must not be of war,” it said, echoing what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a face-to-face meeting in September.
Media and officials in the country of 1.3 billion were quick to claim the inclusion as a sign that the world’s largest democracy had played a vital role in bridging differences between an increasingly isolated Russia, and the United States and its allies.
“How India united G20 on PM Modi’s idea of peace,” ran a headline in the Times of India, the country’s largest English-language paper.
“The Prime Minister’s message that this is not the era of war… resonated very deeply across all the delegations and helped bridge the gap across different parties,” India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters Wednesday.
The declaration came as Indonesian President Joko Widodo handed over the G20 presidency to Modi, who will host the next leaders’ summit in the Indian capital New Delhi in September 2023 — about six months before he is expected to head to the polls in a general election and contest the country’s top seat for a third time.
As New Delhi deftly balances its ties to Russia and the West, Modi, analysts say, is emerging as a leader who has been courted by all sides, winning him support at home, while cementing India as a international power broker.
“The domestic narrative is that the G20 summit is being used as a big banner in Modi’s election campaign to show he’s a great global statesmen,” said Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at New Delhi-based think tank Center for Policy Research. “And the current Indian leadership now sees themselves as a powerful country seated at the high table.”
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