Russia’s Putin won’t attend upcoming G-20 summit in Bali

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit In Indonesia next week, an Indonesian government official said Thursday it is avoiding a potential conflict with the United States and its allies over its war in Ukraine.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, head of support for G-20 programs, said Putin’s decision not to attend was “best for all of us”.

US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders will attend the two-day summit starting November 15. Biden and Putin met for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is hosting the event on the island of Bali.

“It has been officially reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G-20 summit and will be represented by high-level officials, and President Joko Widodo and Putin discussed this in a previous telephone conversation,” Panjaitan said after the meeting. Security officers in Denpasar, the capital of Bali.

“Whatever happens with Russia’s decision is in our common interest and the best for all of us,” added Pandjaitan, who is also the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment. He said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation.

Panjaitan did not know why Putin decided not to come but said, “Maybe it’s because President Putin is busy at home and we have to respect him.” Pandzaitan confirmed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could also be kept at home for the same reasons.

Earlier this year, Widodo traveled to Kyiv and Moscow in an effort to broker peace with the two leaders sitting in Bali.

Putin has decided not to participate in the G-20 after the Russian military suffered a major setback in Ukraine. Russia’s military said it would withdraw from Kherson, Ukraine’s only regional capital and gateway to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Russia’s announcement of a withdrawal from Kherson, along with a potential stalemate in winter fighting, could give the two countries an opportunity to negotiate for peace, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday.

He said as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “a good” 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded in the ninth month of the war. “Probably the same thing on the Ukrainian side,” Milly added.

The G-20 is the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia this week and the next three summits, and it remains unclear whether Lavrov will represent Russia at all of them. Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit Thursday begins in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, followed by the G-20 and then the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Biden will attend ASEAN and the G-20 while Vice President Kamala Harris will go to APEC. Biden will meet Xi in Bali.

Biden had ruled out meeting with Putin if he had attended the summit, saying the only conversation he would likely have with the Russian leader would be to discuss a deal to free Americans imprisoned in Russia..

Biden administration officials said they were coordinating with global counterparts if Putin decided to attend in person or virtually. They have discussed boycotts or other demonstrations of protest.

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