Host India doesn't want G20 to discuss further Russia sanctions - sources

FILE PHOTO: The Gateway of India monument is lit up to mark India's G20 presidency

By Shivangi Acharya, Sarita Chaganti Singh and Aftab Ahmed

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India does not want the G20 to discuss additional sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine during New Delhi's one-year presidency of the bloc, six senior Indian officials said on Wednesday, amid debate over how even to describe the conflict.

On the sidelines of a G20 gathering in India, financial leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations will meet on Feb. 23, the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion, to discuss measures against Russia, Japan's finance minister said on Tuesday.

The officials, who are directly involved in this week's G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs, said the economic impact of the conflict would be discussed but India did not want to consider additional actions against Russia.

"India is not keen to discuss or back any additional sanctions on Russia during the G20," said one of the officials. "The existing sanctions on Russia have had a negative impact on the world."

Another official said sanctions were not a G20 issue. "G20 is an economic forum for discussing growth issues."

Spokespeople for the Indian government and the finance and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Wednesday, the first day of meetings to draft the G20 communique, officials struggled to find an acceptable word to describe the Russia-Ukraine conflict, delegates of at least seven countries present in the meetings said.

India tried to form a consensus on the words by calling it a "crisis" or a "challenge" instead of a "war", the officials said, but the discussions concluded without a decision.

These discussions have been rolled over to Thursday when U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will be part of the meetings.

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has previously said the war has disproportionately hit poorer countries by raising prices of fuel and food.

India's neighbours - Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh - have all sought loans from the International Monetary Fund in recent months to tide over economic troubles brought about by the pandemic and the war.

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Tuesday that Washington and its allies planned in coming days to impose new sanctions and export controls that would target Russia's purchase of dual-use goods like refrigerators and microwaves to secure semiconductors needed for its military.

The sanctions would also seek to do more to stem the trans-shipment of oil and other restricted goods through bordering countries.

In addition, Adeyemo said officials from a coalition of more than 30 countries would warn companies, financial institutions and individuals still doing business with Russia that they faced sanctions.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has not openly criticised Moscow for the invasion and instead called for dialogue and diplomacy to end the war. India has also sharply raised purchases of oil from Russia, its biggest supplier of defence hardware.

Jaishankar told Reuters partner ANI this week that India's relationship with Russia had been "extraordinarily steady and it has been steady through all the turbulence in global politics".

(Additional reporting by Krishn Kaushik; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Nick Macfie)