By Stanley Widianto
JAKARTA -Indonesian President and G20 chairman Joko Widodo will meet leaders of Ukraine and Russia next week to advocate for peace and try to help ease a global food crisis, his foreign minister said on Wednesday, the first such trip by an Asian leader.
The Ukraine war has overshadowed meetings of the Group of 20 major economies hosted by Indonesia, which has struggled to unify members while resisting pressure from Western states, which are threatening boycotts and pushing for Russia’s exclusion from a November leaders’ summit.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Jokowi, as the president is known, will meet counterparts in both Kyiv and Moscow after the G7 Summit in Germany, which ends on Tuesday.
“The president is showing compassion on the humanitarian crisis, will try to contribute to dealing with the food crisis caused by the war, and the impact felt on all countries, especially the developing and low-income ones,” she told a news conference.
“And he’ll keep pushing for the spirit of peace.”
Russia launched its invasion of neighbour Ukraine in February, calling it a “special military operation”.
The conflict has caused major disruption to supply chains, stoking a food and energy crisis that has seen inflation soar in many countries, some of which have imposed export curbs to preserve domestic supplies.
Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have previously been invited by Jokowi to attend the G20 summit in Bali.
Retno did not elaborate on what he would raise at the talks in Moscow and Kyiv or when those would take place. The president’s office referred Reuters to the foreign ministry.
Russian state news agency TASS reported Putin would meet Jokowi on June 30.
Ukraine was one of Indonesia’s biggest sources of wheat before the war, supplying about 3 million tonnes of it in 2021.
International relations expert Radityo Dharmaputra of Indonesia’s Airlangga University said it was unlikely Jokowi was expecting to broker peace but said he might ask Russia to free up supplies of Ukrainian wheat.
Indonesia has condemned the war and though it has expressed sympathy to Ukrainians, Jokowi in April said he had declined Zelenskiy’s request for arms.
Retno said as G20 chairman Jokowi had spoken to leaders of the United Nations, Germany and Turkey about the impacts of the war, and favours talking directly to the parties involved.
“The situation is very complex right now. The continued war will have an impact on humanity including food, energy, and financial crises,” Retno said.