Indonesian President Joko Widodo, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 Leading Empire and Developing Nations, is visiting Ukraine and Russia for meetings with the leaders of the two warring nations after attending the Group of Seven summit in Germany.
Widodo has been trying to maintain a neutral position since the beginning of the war, and he hopes his efforts will lead to a ceasefire and eventual direct talks between the two leaders.
What does Widodo hope to achieve?
Widodo said he wanted to encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to start a dialogue on ending the war, which has caused global food shortages and increases in commodity prices.
“My mission is to build peace, because the war must be stopped and (its effects) on the food supply chain must be lifted,” Widodo said, “I will invite President Putin to open a dialogue and, as soon as possible, possibly, to carry out a ceasefire and stop the war. “
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has suffocated global markets and contributed to higher prices of meat, dairy, grain, sugar and vegetable oils.
“These visits are important not only for Indonesians but also for other developing countries to prevent the people of developing and low-income countries from falling into extreme poverty and hunger,” Widodo said.
Why does the war in Ukraine matter to Widodo?
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said it was important to bring about a resumption of grain exports from Ukraine and food and fertilizer exports from Russia to end shortages and lower prices.
Rising costs of cooking oil have urged the Indonesian government to temporarily ban the export of palm oil products amid a series of student protests against rising food prices. Indonesia resumed exports of crude palm oil a month later.
Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest exporters of palm oil, accounting for 85% of world production.
Why can Putin and Zelenskyy listen to Widodo?
As this year’s G-20 president, Indonesia has tried to remain neutral in dealing with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been guarded in its comments.
Widodo said he had offered Indonesian support in peace efforts to both Putin and Zelenskyy, a move seen as an attempt to unite the G-20 forum divided by the ongoing conflict.
The United States and its allies in the Group of Seven Leading Industrialized Nations – a subset of the G-20 – sought to punish Putin in as many ways as possible, including by threatening to boycott the G-20 summit . will be held in Bali later this year unless Putin is removed from the forum.
Widodo invited Zelenskyy to the summit with Putin in the hope that it would appease proponents of both Ukraine and Russia and limit any distraction from the forum’s other agenda items. Ukraine is not a member of the forum, but Russia is.
What are his chances of success?
Widodo will be the first Asian leader to visit the warring countries.
His efforts come weeks after Russia said it was looking at an Italian proposal to end the conflict in Ukraine. Talks between Russia and Ukraine to end the hostilities have essentially stalled.
The Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers met in Turkey for indecisive talks in Turkey, followed by a meeting of the delegations in Istanbul, which also failed to achieve concrete results.
Gilang Kembara, an international political researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an Indonesian think tank, is pessimistic that Putin will listen to Widodo to find a peaceful solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
“The chances for that are very slim,” Kembara said, “Indonesia does not have much experience as a peace broker outside the Southeast Asia region.”