Putin won’t attend upcoming G-20 summit in Bali
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit next week, an Indonesian government official said Thursday, a decision that heads off a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies over his war in Ukraine.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the chief of support for G-20 events, said Putin’s decision to skip the event was “the best for all of us.”
President Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders are to attend the two-day summit, which starts Tuesday. The summit would have been the first time Biden and Putin were together at a gathering since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is hosting the event on the island of Bali.
“It has been officially informed that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G-20 summit, and will be represented by a high-level official, and this has been discussed by [Indonesian] President Joko Widodo and Putin in previous telephone conversations,” Pandjaitan said in Denpasar, Bali’s capital.
“Whatever happens with Russia’s decision, it is for our common good and the best for all of us,” added Pandjaitan, who is also the coordinating minister of maritime affairs and investment. He said earlier that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation.
Pandjaitan said he did not know why the Russian leader decided against attending but said “maybe it’s because President Putin is busy at home, and we also have to respect that.” Pandjaitan said the same reasons may be keeping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at home as well, though Ukraine is a not a G-20 member.
The Russian military says it’s pulling back from the western bank of the Dnieper River in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, which Moscow illegally annexed.
The Indonesian president, known as Jokowi, earlier this year traveled to Kyiv and Moscow in an effort to get the two leaders to sit down in Bali and make peace.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed later Thursday that Lavrov would lead Russia’s delegation instead of Putin. He did not give a reason.
Putin’s decision comes as Russia’s forces in Ukraine have suffered significant setbacks. Russia’s military said it would withdraw from Kherson, which is the only Ukrainian regional capital it captured and a gateway to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.
Russia’s announced retreat from Kherson, along with a potential stalemate in fighting over the winter, could provide both countries an opportunity to negotiate peace, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday.
North Korea denied U.S. allegations that it is shipping artillery shells and ammunition to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine.
He said as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “well over” 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war, with a similar number of Ukrainian military casualties.
The G-20 is the biggest of three summits being held in Southeast Asia this week and next, and it remained unclear whether Lavrov would represent Russia at all of them.
The Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations summit began Thursday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which will be followed by the G-20 and then the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok.
Biden will attend the ASEAN and G-20 summits, while Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to APEC. The president is expected to meet with Xi in Bali.
Biden had ruled out meeting with Putin if he attended the summit and said the only conversation he could possibly have with the Russian leader would be to discuss a deal to free Americans imprisoned in Russia.
Biden administration officials said they had been coordinating with global counterparts to isolate Putin if he had decided to participate either in person or virtually. They discussed boycotts or other displays of condemnation.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for the L.A. Times biggest news, features and recommendations in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.