By Shivangi Acharya and Sarita Chaganti Singh
BENGALURU (Reuters) -India does not want the Group of 20 nations to discuss additional sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, government sources said on Wednesday, as finance officials from the bloc started a meeting near the southern city of Bengaluru.
The Indian sources, who are directly involved in this week’s G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs, said the war’s macroeconomic impact would be discussed but India does not want to deliberate on additional actions against Russia during its one-year presidency.
“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.”
Spokespeople for the Indian government and the finance and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier, Anurag Thakur, India’s information minister, told a news conference after welcoming delegates: “Today’s era is not for war. Democracy, dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward”.
The meeting in the Nandi Hills summer retreat is the first major event of India’s G20 presidency. It is likely to be overshadowed by the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, which falls on Friday.
India has kept a neutral stance on the war, declining to blame Russia for the invasion, seeking a diplomatic solution and increasing its purchases of Russian oil over the past year.
U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said this week that Washington and its allies will impose new sanctions and export controls on Russia in coming days and also crack down on companies and individuals who are helping Moscow evade sanctions.
Japan’s finance minister said on Tuesday that financial leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations will meet on the sidelines of the G20 meeting to discuss measures against Russia.
DEBT, CRYPTO ON AGENDA
Russia has been India’s biggest supplier of military equipment for decades and it is the fourth-biggest market for India’s pharmaceutical products.
“Many nations are keen on their turn to speak on the Russia-Ukraine war,” said a central bank deputy governor from one of the attending countries, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Russia themselves want to discuss the economic impact of sanctions.”
The Russian embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs are also expected to discuss unblocking debt restructuring for distressed economies that have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Reuters reported last week that India has drafted a proposal for G20 countries to help debtor nations by asking lenders, including the world’s largest sovereign creditor China, to take a large haircut on loans.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner will be attending the meetings and are expected to press China to “quickly deliver” on debt relief for low and middle income countries.
During the event, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) plans to hold a meeting with the World Bank, India, China, Saudi Arabia, the United States and other Group of Seven (G7) nations to try to reach understanding on common standards, principles and definitions on how to restructure distressed country debt.
Rules on crypto-currencies, reform of multilateral development banks, international taxation and securing adequate finance to combat climate change are also on the agenda of the meetings, which chiefs of the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank will also attend.
However, neither the Russian finance minister nor the central bank chief were expected to attend the meeting and they will be represented by their deputies.
(Reporting by Sarita Chaganti Singh, Shivangi Acharya and Aftab Ahmed, writing by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Krishna N. Das and Raju Gopalakrishnan)