France won't sign G20 communique unless it strongly condemns Russia

FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Le Maire and German Economy and Climate Minister Habeck in Paris

By Aftab Ahmed and Christian Kraemer

BENGALURU (Reuters) -France will not sign off on a G20 communique unless it contains the same denunciation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as it did last year, its finance minister said on Friday on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in India.

"I want to make very clear that we will oppose any step back from the leaders on the statement from the leaders in Bali on this question of war in Ukraine," Bruno Le Maire told a news conference.

"We fully trust India to reach a strong communique and we are happy to see India in the driving seat today."

The leaders' declaration after the last G20 summit in Bali deplored "in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine".

"Either we have the same language or we do not sign on the final communique," Maire said.

India, which holds the current G20 presidency, has kept a largely neutral stance on the war, declining to blame Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil.

New Delhi does not want the G20 to discuss additional sanctions on Russia and is also pressing to avoid using the word "war" to describe the year-old conflict, G20 officials earlier told Reuters.

Russia, which is a member of the G20, refers to its actions in Ukraine as a "special military operation", and avoids calling it an invasion or war.

G20 financial leaders must condemn Russia's aggression, Maire told Reuters in an interview.

"Sanctions will be more and more efficient, more and more effective," he said.

Le Maire said that India's purchase of discounted Russian oil had reduced Moscow's oil revenues. He also said that more funds had been sought from the IMF for Ukraine.

Ukraine is hoping to clinch a $15 billion IMF programme that will cover immediate financial assistance and support for structural reforms to underpin efforts at post-conflict rebuilding.

(Additional reporting by Shivangi Acharya and Sarita Chaganti Singh; Writing by Shivam Patel and Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)