The Putin Dilemma seemed likely to affect the G20 the most. APEC is a unique forum of economies, rather than states. ASEAN’s core membership is South-East Asian nations with Russia as a dialogue partner, albeit an important one. ASEAN countries are not as directly affected thus far by the conflict in Ukraine and lagged behind other UN members in voting against Russia in the UN General Assembly with few following the West in imposing sanctions. Indonesia has not imposed any sanctions on Russia but did vote against Russia in the UN General Assembly and Security Council votes. Notably Indonesia abstained in the crucial last vote on April 7 on whether to exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
But the G20 is the leading global economic forum with Russia as a key member. The G7 suspended Russia from the G8 due to its invasion of Crimea in 2014 and then Russia chose to walk away from it in 2017. But the G20 is a different proposition due to the wider membership, including the other members of the BRICS with Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The G20 has no secretariat so the current host works in a troika with the previous and future hosts, in this case Italy and India. It may not be in the host’s gift to disinvite a current invitee, there is no precedent for such a move and it did not occur in the G20 when Russia was kicked out of the G8. Presumably, it may require a unanimous vote of the full membership other than Russia. But it is clear that the host is allowed to invite a selection of guests, which allowed President Widodo to invite the Ukrainian President Zelensky to Bali.
The theme of Indonesia’s G20 Presidency is Recover together, recover stronger, with the three pillars of Global Health Architecture, Sustainable Energy Transition, and Digital Transformation. Indonesia expected to showcase their leadership on ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, and promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development through MSMEs participation and reforms to the digital economy. Instead, G20 headlines all year have focused on walkouts from Finance Ministers meetings and pressure on President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo to disinvite Putin.
The hosts have had no choice, but that might turn in Indonesia’s favour. Indonesian academics Killian and Azis note that this move could underline Indonesia’s experience as a regional facilitator and mediator in Southeast Asian conflicts and can use this expertise to mediate the group’s polarisation.