June 28-29, G20 summit will take place in Osaka, Japan. Leaders of the twenty most developed countries will discuss political and economic trends and challenges on a global scale. An intriguing event of the summit will be a meeting between US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
US relations with China and Russia are in the worst condition since the end of the Cold War. Too many contradictions cannot be resolved for several years.
Ukraine is closely following the upcoming G20 summit since one of the topics that can be discussed there is the question of ending the Russian aggression. Trump and Putin will hold the first meeting since Volodymyr Zelensky has become President of Ukraine.
US and China Trade Negotiations
Most likely, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping will focus on the issue of the US-Chinese trade war, which lasts for a whole year. The American president expressed a desire to personally speak with the leader of the Middle Kingdom shortly after the failed trade talks between US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in May of this year.
China refused to accept the draft trade agreement developed by the Americans. The agreement obliged to exclude from the Chinese law of a provision for the transfer of technology to foreign firms interested in operating in the Chinese market, lifting restrictions on free competition, providing access to financial services, and also stopping currency manipulation.
Washington demanded that Beijing stop appropriating American intellectual property and trade secrets. However, the Chinese removed from the contract all the conditions that are of the Americans’ interests.
Trump believes that the Chinese leadership has given back in the trade negotiations and did not approve the 95% deal agreed and threatened to introduce new duties on goods from China worth more than $ 300 billion if the upcoming talks with Xi Jinping fail. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is confident that the terms of a trade deal with China should be strict and binding.
Previously, the United States and China agreed on a number of concessions. China is ready to discuss at the talks the problems of compulsory transfer of technology, cybercrime, not related to the duties of trade barriers, offered to bring subsidies in accordance with WTO rules, promised to purchase US goods worth $ 1 billion over the next six years.
In turn, the States do not require China to refuse to provide subsidies to state-owned industrial enterprises in order to change the way the local economy, where the role of the state is great. Far from the fact that this time the US-China negotiations will proceed smoothly.
North Korean overtones of negotiations
It is possible that Xi Jinping might try to link trade negotiations with the North Korean problem in order to try to persuade Trump to make big concessions. On the eve of the Osaka summit, Xi Jinping paid a visit to Pyongyang on the pretext of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea, where he held talks with North Korean High Leader Kim Jong-un. Over the past 14 years, this was the first visit of the PRC Chairman to the “Country of Morning Freshness”.
His predecessor, Hu Jintao, refrained from traveling to North Korea after the start of nuclear tests in 2006. China supported the introduction of international sanctions against the DPRK at the level of the UN Security Council. About 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade comes from China. Xi Jinping makes it clear to Trump that China has an exceptional influence on North Korean foreign policy and, if desired, can help convince Kim Jong-un to move from words to deeds and give up nuclear weapons.
Beijing might require Washington to comply with the requirements of Chinese legislation on technology transfer. By the end of this year, Trump and Kim plan to hold a third bilateral summit. In June, the North Korean leader sent a letter to the American president in which he expressed a desire to hold a new meeting, provided that the US reconsiders its requirements regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The second summit in Hanoi in February of this year ended to no avail. Trump could not convince Kim Jong-un to voluntarily transfer the nuclear arsenal of the DPRK to the USA. The North Korean leader demanded the abolition of international sanctions in exchange for the closure of only one research center in Yongbyon (from at least twenty nuclear facilities of the DPRK).
Rocket and gas diplomacy with Russia
Trump has long been considering the opportunity to meet with Putin and discuss problematic issues in their bilateral relations. At last year’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Trump canceled a meeting with Putin because of the Russian attack on Ukrainian military boats in the Kerch Strait.
The meeting in Osaka will be the first meeting of the leaders of the two states after the completion of the investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Muller, who did not find any connections between Trump’s election headquarters and the Russian special services. Moscow and Washington have not yet reached agreement on any of the other problematic issues.
The indignation of the United States is caused by the continuing Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine, military assistance to the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Syrian President Bashar Assad in the fight against the opposition. Moscow did not meet Washington and London in the investigation of a chemical attack in the British city of Salisbury, refused to allow international experts to their enterprises where the Novichok nerve agent could be manufactured.
Russia did not support the idea of Trump to conclude a new treaty with the United States on the limitation of medium-range and shorter-range missiles, did not refuse the 9M729 cruise missiles with a range of 2,000–2,500 kilometers. These missiles go beyond the limitations of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987, in which Washington and Moscow suspended in February of this year amid controversy.
Most of all, Trump is interested in getting Russia to abandon the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, the sale of Su-35 multipurpose fighter jets and S-400 anti-missile systems to third countries, including Turkey, China, India. The US views the Russian gas pipeline as a competitor to the supply of American liquefied gas to Europe.
The S-400 anti-missile systems pose a challenge for American low profile military aircraft. Trump stressed that no one except him had imposed such tough sanctions against Russia, but this does not prevent to find a common language with the leadership of this country. In May, the United States imposed sanctions against several individuals, the Instrument Engineering Design Bureau, the Avangard Moscow Machine-Building Plant, and the anti-aircraft training ground in Gatchina.
Trump will meet with Putin in Osaka not only for the sake of public relations during the election campaign in the United States next year or "talks for the sake of negotiations." The American president will determine in the course of negotiations with Putin what further actions to take in relation to Russia.
Judging by the Kremlin rhetoric, the Russian side is not ready for constructive dialogue. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Trump, speaking of the meeting, was referring to contacts "on his feet" during the summit, and therefore it would not be possible to discuss the scope of issues on the agenda.
What should Ukraine expect?
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin suggested that Ukrainian President Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Putin could meet in Japan at the G20 summit. As Yulia Mendel, Zelensky’s press secretary, later reported, the Ukrainian leader was not included in the list of invited guests, since he would not be able to visit Japan because of the tight schedule.
Peskov says that Putin does not plan to meet with Zelensky in Japan. However, this does not detract from the significance of the G20 summit in Osaka for Ukraine.
The very fact that a new leader came to power in Ukraine creates a reason for discussing the Ukrainian question. Zelensky has already held talks with the leaders of the member countries of the Norman format - with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He also had a telephone conversation with Trump after the inauguration. During the first meeting with Putin, the Ukrainian president plans to raise the issue of Ukraine’s ownership of Crimea and Donbas.
However, Russia is not becoming more compliant. Putin said that he was ready to discuss with Zelensky Ukraine’s implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Kremlin continues to insist on the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the contact line in Donbas, holding elections in the occupied territories and giving them special status.
Earlier, Putin said that Ukraine supposedly makes sense to federalize and declare international neutrality. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in favor of direct negotiations between Zelensky and Donbas separatist leaders. Russia is not even going to withdraw its armed forces from the east of Ukraine and return the Crimea.
The upcoming G20 summit could be a marker for the attitude of the United States, France, Germany, and other developed countries to the Ukrainian issue. Merkel believes that anti-Russian sanctions will not be lifted until the Minsk agreements are implemented and Crimea is not returned to Ukraine.
Macron supports the continuation of restrictive measures against Russia. A similar position is held by the Trump administration and the US Congress. Perhaps the Americans and Europeans will prepare the ground for a future meeting between Putin and Zelensky at the summit, once again they will let the Russian president know that the sanctions will continue until Russia restores Ukraine’s territorial integrity.