West targets Russia over Ukraine as testy G20 wraps up
Russian President Vladimir Putin faced concerted Western fire over the Ukraine crisis on Sunday at a testy G20 summit where geopolitical strains have vied with debate on overhauling the global economy.
After the Kremlin was forced to deny talk that Putin might walk out of the Brisbane meeting early out of pique at being ambushed over Ukraine, Western pressure redoubled with a joint declaration from the United States, Australia and Japan.
The trio's leaders said after talks on the G20 margins that they were united in "opposing Russia's purported annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilise eastern Ukraine, and bringing to justice those responsible for the downing of Flight MH17".
The West says the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine in July, using a missile supplied by Russia.
Moscow angrily denies the charges.
The Group of 20 nations, which includes the United States and China, found agreement in vowing to "extinguish" the Ebola outbreak -- albeit without any promise of hard cash -- as it works to reboot growth in the world economy after the shock of the 2008 financial crisis.
The summit in Australia was expected to wrap up Sunday with a declaration that the leaders, who collectively represent 85 percent of global output, are committed to structural reforms that would lift economic growth by at least 2.
0 percent over the next five years.
That amounts to more than two trillion dollars, although economists are sceptical that many of the G20 members have the stomach for such reforms when growth is already slipping in some key countries, including China and Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who held lengthy, late-night bilateral talks with Putin in Brisbane Saturday, told reporters that the tensions over Ukraine were hindering efforts to boost economic growth.
"It's clear that these geopolitical tensions, including relations with Russia, are not really conducive to promoting growth," she said.
"We are all striving to do everything diplomatically possible to see improvements.
"- 'Trench warfare' -Merkel was later Sunday due to join talks convened by Obama with the G20's European leaders, including those of Britain and France, to look at issues including Ukraine and transatlantic trade, US and European aides said.
Before his own tense meeting with Putin in Brisbane Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russia faced a choice, with one option to implement an agreement to allow stability to return to Ukraine free of Moscow's meddling.
"It's important to warn of the dangers if Russia continues to head in the other direction," Cameron said, bluntly warning that Putin had failed to serve Russia's own interests by exposing it to punishing Western sanctions.
Obama and the European leaders have also come together in Australia to demand that the G20 commit to collective action against climate change.
That is counter to the pro-growth agenda promoted by summit host Tony Abbott.
The Australian prime minister was putting up tough resistance to language on the climate proposed for the G20 communique by the US and Europeans, delegates said.
One European diplomat likened the negotiations to "trench warfare", but the pro-climate lobby is confident of victory after Obama breathed new life into global discussions on greenhouse emissions with a surprise pact with China last week.
"If China and the US can agree on this, then the world can agree on this -- we can get this done," the US president said in a speech in Brisbane.
Australia in contrast was making last-ditch attempts Sunday for the G20's powerful leaders to use all policy levers to rehabilitate global economies and generate prosperity, which could see their previous target of two percent growth bettered.
"Well, it certainly is the case that two percent target that we announced in Sydney (this year) has been met, but it will go further," Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said.
"We cannot rest.
The world needs growth.
© 2014 AFP