The joint leaders’ statement at the G20 Summit, while largely symbolic, showed that “Russia [is] a lot more isolated than perhaps we’d been led to suspect,” says USIP’s Mary Glantz, adding that Russia’s anti-imperialist justification for the war in Ukraine is “not getting the traction we thought it was.”

U.S. Institute of Peace experts discuss the latest foreign policy issues from around the world in On Peace, a brief weekly collaboration with SiriusXM's POTUS Channel 124.


Julie Mason: Mary Glantz is senior advisor for Russia and the Europe Center at the United States Institute of Peace. I just completely garbled that. Here to discuss a recent article on the G20. Mary, good morning.

Mary Glantz: Good morning. How are you?

Julie Mason: I'm good. How are you doing?

Mary Glantz: Good. Thanks.

Julie Mason: Glad to hear it. So, the G20. What really came out of that? I thought it was very interesting that Russia didn't attend. Although, you know, why would Putin go somewhere where he would be largely unwelcome?

Mary Glantz: Yeah, exactly. I think, first, that Putin had a lot to lose if he did go. We've been seeing throughout this crisis that Putin is really playing to the Global South. And we've been watching that in U.N. votes and things like that, where it's really to his advantage to try and press that Ukraine, really the West is united behind Ukraine, but Russia is not isolated at all. And so, he's been playing up the BRICS and other of his Global South allies. Going to the G20 would have really tested that. Would everybody have actually stood around him? And what we saw is that, in fact, they didn't actually stand around him.

Julie Mason: Lavrov left early.

Mary Glantz: Yeah, there were rumors about whether or not he was sick. He went to the hospital; he claims it was for a checkup. Maybe they don't do checkups in Moscow anymore and he had to do that in Bali instead. But, you know, I suspect that this G20, now, the results were largely symbolic. Nothing really concrete came out of it but the symbolism that came out of it was really actually quite good for Ukraine. It showed that Russia was a lot more isolated than perhaps we'd been led to suspect.

Julie Mason: So, there was no actual communique, but there was a statement from the G20 members. Or G19 as we're calling it now.

Mary Glantz: Yeah, exactly. In the communique, there was no communique. But they did agree on a leaders statement. And in that leaders statement, they actually said that most participants condemned the war. Not all obviously, because Russia was a participant, and they're not going to condemn their own war. And that was really sort of surprising, because we've heard from behind the scenes that his BRICS, the Brazil, Russia, India, China group with South Africa, they actually voted for most, several of them, perhaps not China, but they all voted in support of that statement in the leader statement. So, that was sort of surprising given that we thought that they might be behind Russia in this war.

Julie Mason: Well, it seems, Mary, like other than the Iranians, most countries who are on side with Russia are merely tolerating the war rather than enthusiastically supporting it.

Mary Glantz: Right, that's definitely true. I mean, we saw Xi at the SCO meeting. Chinese President Xi hinted that this war had been going on too long. Modi, Indian Prime Minister Modi, didn't even hint. He came out and said that this war is going on too long and it's bad for the world. And in fact, I saw some Indian diplomats claiming that the statement, the leaders statement, where they said this is not the era for war. That is, in fact, what Modi said to Putin at the SCO meeting as well.

Julie Mason: It's not a convenient time for your war, can you reschedule? Like this is not a good time.

Mary Glantz: Exactly. Well, he meant that this era, I mean, this is not how we're supposed to solve problems anymore in the 21st century. And it really, if you look at the global economic impact of it, and if you look at the food impact, the food crisis that a lot of countries are having, this really is hurting a lot of different countries. And for what? I mean, because Russia wants to conquer Ukraine? It doesn't make much sense. And, you know, the initial spin coming out of Moscow was that this was an anti-imperialist war, and that NATO is the imperialist power trying to take over Ukraine. And that was why the G20 was symbolic because we thought that that was gaining traction in the part of the world that had been victims of imperialism, the U.S. isn't extremely popular. And so, this narrative played well. And then we see at this meeting, that it's not playing as well as Russia and we thought it was. It's actually not getting the traction that we thought it was.

Julie Mason: I mean, taking a step back, Mary, all these world leader organizations with the caveat that it's great that they get together and talk like you want that. But do any of them have any leverage, any strength? Can they actually ever do anything? Or is that completely beside the point?

Mary Glantz: I think that's a really good question. And it's a complicated question, because, on the one hand, a smaller group like the G7, which is pretty united, I mean, those are Western countries and they have a lot of economic clout, obviously, and Japan. But we count Japan as Western in that sense. It's a weird definition of Western, but it's basically pro-NATO, pro-U.S. pro-that type of thing. But they all basically have the economic power to put sanctions on Russia and put economic pressure on Russia. So, that is something real. The “G19” is a bit bigger, it's more diverse. But I think it's really, really hard to say, but I think right now the symbolism is very important. But in addition, I guess they could put some economic pressure on Russia, because Russia relies upon India and China for the economic support right now.

Julie Mason: Right. I think it's very interesting that Japan is re-arming itself right now.

Mary Glantz: Yeah. That yeah, that is interesting. I'm not a Japan expert, but I do know that what Russia has done has really shaken up a lot of countries. And Japan, of course, doesn't have a treaty with Russia. They don't have a peace treaty from World War II. And they're still debating “the northern territories,” as they call it and “the Kuril Islands,” as the Russians call it. And so, the fact that Russia is so willing to settle disputes through force has obviously shaken the Japanese. I imagine that their rearming also has to do with China. But that's not my area of expertise.

Julie Mason: Really interesting. Mary Glantz is senior advisor for Russia and the Europe Center at the United States Institute of Peace. Mary, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

Mary Glantz: Thank you for having me. It was great talking to you.

Julie Mason: Have a great day.

Mary Glantz: You too.

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