Putin will not attend G20 summit in person, Russian embassy says

Hong Kong

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend next week’s G20 summit in Bali in person, the Russian embassy in Indonesia told CNN on Thursday.

Putin will be represented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the embassy’s head of protocol, Yulia Tomskaya, said.

Domskaya is deciding whether Putin will attend one more meeting.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Bandjaitan, said Putin would not attend. Pandejaitan, who is helping coordinate the summit, said the Russian president would be represented by “senior officials”.

Putin’s decision not to attend the G20 summit in person spares him the embarrassment faced or sidelined by other world leaders over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The meeting comes days after the Kremlin announced Russian forces would withdraw from a large swath of Kherson — one of four Ukrainian regions Putin has previously said Russia plans to annex in violation of international law.

Ahead of the event, the West and Ukraine have pressured G20 host Indonesia to step up its condemnation of Moscow and withdraw Putin’s invitation to the summit. Since the invasion of Ukraine in late February, Western democracies have viewed Russia and Putin as pariahs on the world stage.

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US President Joe Biden, who attended the summit, said in March that Russia should be expelled from the G20, a multilateral body that includes the world’s 19 major economies and the European Union. Senior members of the Biden administration have pulled out of G20 events attended by the Russian delegation.

Asked whether he would meet Putin one-on-one during an exclusive interview in Bali last month, Biden said he didn’t see a good reason to do so, but said it “depends specifically on what he wanted to talk about.” Biden said he would be willing to talk if Putin wanted to discuss jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner.

Jakarta has resisted pressure to isolate Russia and has sought to maintain a neutral stance. Ukraine has invited President Volodymyr Zelensky as a guest at the summit.

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Zelensky has said that Ukraine will not participate in the G20 summit if Putin attends. The Ukrainian president is almost expected to join the meetings.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who met with Putin in Uzbekistan in September, is expected to attend the summit for the first time since the US president took office nearly two years ago.

Beijing has not officially confirmed whether Xi will attend the summit or meet with Biden. But on Wednesday, during a White House news conference following the midterm elections, Biden said he would hold talks with Xi in Bali.

Biden said he did not plan to make any “fundamental concessions” and that they would discuss the economy and trade. But he declined to say what U.S. military support for Taiwan would entail if China went to the self-ruled island.

“I’m going to have that conversation with him,” Biden added, noting that they would lay out “what each of our red lines are.”

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Their much-anticipated meeting comes as U.S.-China relations hit their lowest point in decades in a downward spiral that began under former president Donald Trump, as the two countries escalate their rivalry in trade, technology, geopolitics and ideology.

In recent months, tensions have reached new heights following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and the Biden administration’s ban on the sale of advanced chips and chip-making equipment to China.

Meanwhile, under Xi, China has moved closer to Russia, united by their deteriorating relations with the US and other Western countries. Just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Xi and Putin declared that their countries share a “boundaryless” friendship. Beijing has refused to condemn the war in Ukraine, or refer to it as an “invasion”.

After the G20, Xi will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok next Friday, Thailand’s foreign ministry said. Biden is not expected to attend the event, while Putin has yet to confirm his attendance.


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