November 27, 2022

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G20 summit: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not go to G20 summit in Bali

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G20 leaders’ summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali next week, Moscow’s embassy in Indonesia told AFP on Thursday.

“I can confirm that (foreign minister) Sergei Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation to the G20. President Putin’s program is still being worked out, he could participate virtually,” said Yulia Tomskaya, the embassy’s chief of protocol.

US President Joe Biden, who has called Putin a “war criminal” and who will be attending the summit, previously said he had no intention of meeting Putin in Bali if he went.

The decision, which follows months of speculation, comes as Moscow is suffering losses in its Ukraine campaign and as the Kremlin tries to shield itself from Western condemnation at the November 15-16 summit.

Another source with knowledge of Russia’s planning for the Bali event confirmed that Putin would be replaced by Lavrov. The person said it was unclear if the Russian leader would attend virtually.

Moscow’s top diplomat walked out of a July G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali after officials roundly condemned Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Host Indonesia pursues a neutral foreign policy and has rebuffed Western calls to disinvite Russia from the summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend the summit virtually.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Putin would be invited to the summit despite the invasion, prompting a flurry of Western criticism. In August, he said Putin had accepted that invitation.

Zelensky had threatened to boycott the summit if Putin attended. Ukraine is not a member of the G20 bloc.

Battlefield losses

While US President Joe Biden has shunned contact with his Russian counterpart, France has warned against worsening Putin’s isolation on the world stage.

French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken to Putin in recent months and succeeded in gaining permission for a mission by the UN nuclear watchdog to travel to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Russia refers to its invasion as a special military operation to “de-Nazify” Ukraine and blames subsequent Western sanctions for global economic turmoil caused by the conflict after it sparked food and energy crises.

The Bali meeting comes as Russia is suffering battlefield setbacks in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Russia on Wednesday ordered its troops to withdraw from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine. It was the only regional capital controlled by Moscow’s forces since the offensive began on February 24.

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