Ahead of the upcoming G20 Summit in Australia, the new Russia Direct brief analyzes the implications of this important summit meeting for the relationship between Russia and the West.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, left, meets Australia's Reserve Bank Chairman Glenn Stevens during the opening session of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Photo: AP

With Australia hosting the annual G20 Summit on Nov. 15-16, Russia Direct releases a new brief – “Why the G20 Still Matters for Russia” – that provides important context for Russia’s participation in this year’s event. It also considers the future sustainability of the G20 as a multilateral institution for global governance.

Even though some experts have been skeptical about the G20 summits  seeing them as nothing more than diplomatic and political photo-ops  other pundits acknowledge that the G20 has been successful in dealing with the economic and financial downturns of the past fifteen years in both Europe and Asia.

As the author of the report, Nikolay Murashkin, a researcher from Cambridge Central Asia Forum, argues, “It is fairly commonly accepted that the G20 has been most successful as the ‘special ops’ task force in charge of managing financial crises.”

“As a reminder, the Group first met in 1999, when the effects of the Asian crisis (1997) and Russian sovereign debt crisis (1998) were still poignant,” he wrote. “The most recent crisis  the 2008 global financial crisis – required a coordinated international response that would be more efficient than that of financial institutions just acting alone.”

Nevertheless, geopolitical differences and the face-off over the Ukrainian crisis overshadows the economical agenda of the G20 and seems to undermine its capability to tackle finance and economic instability.

“Unfortunately for the G20 as an institution, these geopolitical issues, together with other distractions like the traditional anti-globalist protests that accompany every G20 meeting, tend to steal the spotlight from the core agenda of the G20  the governance of the global economy and the cleaning up after any financial crisis,” Murashkin argues.

The institution’s raison d’être and modus operandi are still a subject of debates both internally and externally. Moreover, the different political and financial interests of the G20 members increase the uncertainty over the G20’s capacity for coordinated action, the report warns.

To what extent does the G20 meet the interests of its member states and, more specifically, those of Russia? What should the G20 do to become more relevant in the current geopolitical situation? Will the economic agenda be able to overshadow the geopolitical one? Subscribe and download the full version of the report to find out. If you are already an RD subscriber, check your e-mail today and see our message on how to download the report.