President Joe Biden spent the first twenty-four hours of the G20 summit hosted by India attempting to cover the power void left by the absences of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping by courting their allies and vying for their business.
The central tenet of Vice President Biden’s foreign policy is that democracies can deliver while autocracies, despite brief periods of strength and activity, inevitably decline. The American leader intended to prove his theory in the Indian capital through a series of public appearances, meetings, and initiatives aimed at establishing the United States as the uncontested global superpower.
Fresh off Air Force One on Friday night, Vice President Biden met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a one-on-one conversation to strengthen ties between the world’s largest and oldest democracies. An agreement to sustain and repair forward-deployed U.S. Navy ships in the Indo-Pacific region was highlighted in the joint statement issued after the meeting. A decade ago, experts from India stated that such an agreement would have been inconceivable, demonstrating how far the relationship has come.
Biden made his presence felt on Saturday, the first official day of the weekend gathering, drawing attention to the Putin- and Xi-sized gaps in the lineup of world leaders.
He posed for a photograph with the leaders of India, Brazil, and South Africa — the three democracies that make up the BRICS alliance, which also includes Russia and China. All four countries are scheduled to host the G20 summit in the same number of years in the future, which administration officials said was meant to emphasise the G20’s durability.
Biden’s deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer, implied that the photo session was an almost explicit signal to Beijing. “Some have speculated that China’s absence indicates that it is abandoning the G20, which is constructing an alternative world order, and that it will favour groupings like the BRICS,” but the participation of these three nations demonstrates that “they are committed to the success of the G20.”
In addition to securing a diplomatic victory, the United States and its European allies finalised a communiqué expressing support for Ukraine’s defence against Russia.
The official version, a draught of which was obtained by AWN first, states that all nations should “refrain from actions against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.” Moscow approved the language that Western nations sought to use to condemn Russia’s invasion, presumably because it could also be applied to the Kremlin’s complaints that attacks within Russia have increased since Kyiv’s counteroffensive began.
The section pertaining to Ukraine was a stumbling point for negotiators, resulting in negotiations as Friday turned into Saturday. It was feared that a failure to reach a compromise would torpedo any meaningful statement on Ukraine — or, less likely, the joint message itself. Finer told reporters, prior to the release of the draught text, that “we’ve made a very compelling case for how we see this conflict to the other G20 countries.”
However, detractors argued that Biden could have received more votes. Svitlana Romanko, founder and executive director of the pro-Ukraine organisation Razom We Stand, described it as “weak” and “cowardly” for failing to mention Russia or its ongoing war crimes.
Biden and his colleagues proclaimed a new economic corridor from India through the Middle East to Europe as the culmination of the diplomatic flurry. They asserted in the vast Bharat Mandapam convention centre that a new railway will help link the nations and regions, while new sea cables will improve connectivity and promote the development of clean technology, with the aim of tying all the players together economically and politically.
Along with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, the United States’ other two regional partners are Saudi Arabia and Israel, which it hopes will shortly normalise their relations.
“This is a game-changing regional investment,” Biden said at a table with global leaders. We continue to make substantial infrastructure investments worldwide.
Analysts on the periphery of the meeting were quick to note that this move appears to be a direct challenge to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a nebulous framework designed to bring developing nations closer to Beijing through development projects. Biden demonstrated in New Delhi that he was not above making a superior financial offer, essentially buying them off.
Biden still has a number of issues to address in India, including how he intends to finance the investments and reforms to multilateral institutions for the initiatives. Biden is requesting funds from Congress and allies in order to contribute to a Western-led rebuke of China’s pay-to-play scheme, but it is uncertain whether he will receive the $200 billion he needs for World Bank and International Monetary Fund reforms alone.
This is how his administration intends to respond to criticism that the United States disregards human rights concerns in its pursuit of its geopolitical goals. India, for example, demolished slums prior to the G20 to make New Delhi appear more economically robust than it actually is. Finer did not answer “yes” when asked if the president brought up the topic during his conversation with Modi on Friday.
“The broad category that this issue falls into — democratic governance in the United States and India — was very much on the agenda,” he said.
Biden also cannot claim that his and his team’s brilliance was solely responsible for Saturday’s successes. China’s faltering economy and territorial and economic disputes have prompted Modi to turn westward. Russia’s invasion has also made it an international pariah, isolating it from the international community. Consequently, the United States is seizing a momentous opportunity to fill their void.
But if Biden’s objective was to depart the first of two days having made the United States appear stronger than Russia and China, he appears satisfied with his performance.
In reference to Xi, Biden stated, “It would be nice to have him here, but the summit is proceeding well.”