Putin plans to attend G-20 summit despite calls to exclude him

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend the Group of 20 summit that is being hosted by Indonesia this year, Russia’s ambassador to the Southeast Asian country said Wednesday. Western nations are reportedly trying to exclude Moscow from the G-20, an assembly of the world’s largest economies.

“It will depend on many, many things, including the covid situation, that is getting better. So far, his intention is . . . he wants to,” Ambassador Lyudmila Vorobieva said of Putin’s attendance.

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The G-20 forum in Bali in October will focus on economic issues and not on the war in Ukraine, she said, adding that she was aware of attempts to expel Russia from the global economic club.

“Not only the G-20; many organizations in the West are now trying to expel Russia,” Vorobieva said. “The reaction of the West is absolutely disproportional.” She said that expelling Russia from the economic forum would make it more difficult for nations to solve global “economic problems.”

Vorobieva also praised Indonesia’s “firm position” and urged it not to buckle under Western pressure. Jakarta has long had close relations with Moscow, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently told the Japanese news magazine Nikkei Asia that he supported a cease-fire but viewed economic sanctions as a poor tool.

This week, Polish Economic Development and Technology Minister Piotr Nowak proposed excluding Russia from the G-20 during a meeting with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, he told reporters.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also said Tuesday: “On the question of the G-20 … we believe that it cannot be business as usual for Russia in international institutions and in the international community.”

“As for particular institutions and particular decisions, we’d like to consult with our allies, consult with our partners in those institutions before making any further pronouncements,” he said.

Russian membership in the Group of Eight, a smaller organization of leading industrialized nations, was suspended after Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

After Australian foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop raised the idea that Australia could reconsider engaging with Russia over the agenda of the 2014 G-20 Summit in Brisbane, the BRICS foreign ministers – representing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – published a statement noting their concerns.

“The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all Member States equally and no one Member State can unilaterally determine its nature and character,” the BRICS communique said. The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with ambassadors from BRICS nations and “presented a detailed analysis of the reasons of the Ukrainian crisis,” the ministry said.

Lavrov said Wednesday that peace negotiations with Ukraine were continuing, but he accused Ukraine of changing its demands frequently. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a nightly video address late Tuesday that the negotiations were “very difficult.”

Lavrov did not directly address the issue of the G-20 but said Russia needs to ensure that “never again” would it find itself economically dependent on a Western partner that “wakes up in a bad mood.”

He said that Russia requires equal treatment and that the war has sharpened “clarity” in Russia, prompting it to end dependence on the West in the future. “If they want to cooperate, of course, we will not shy away from this, if it is on an equal footing, and in our interests,” Lavrov added.

However, any move to exclude Russia from the forum could be vetoed by other nations. China on Wednesday called Russia an “important member” of the G-20.

“No member has the right to remove another country as a member. The G-20 should implement real multilateralism, strengthen unity and cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.

In Europe, where President Biden is traveling this week and is expected to announce a new suite of sanctions against Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that G-20 members would have to decide the issue but that the priority is still to focus on establishing peace .

“When it comes to the question of how to proceed with the [World Trade Organization] and the G-20, it is imperative to discuss this question with the countries that are involved and not to decide individually,” Scholz said, according to Reuters.

“It is quite clear that we are busy with something else than coming together in such meetings. We urgently need a cease-fire,” he added.

The Washington Post’s Amar Nadhir and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.

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