SINGAPORE — Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia next week, an Indonesian cabinet minister said Thursday. Russia will be represented instead by its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who walked out of a G-20 foreign ministers meeting in July following criticism of Russia.
“Putin will not attend because he has already said that he’ll be sending his foreign minister,” Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, told reporters in Bali. He added that Lavrov will be “the highest” Russian official who will attend. The Russian Embassy in Indonesia also confirmed Thursday that Putin would not be attending.
The embassy, however, did not rule out that Putin might still address the assembly via video link, according to Jakarta press attache Alexander Tumaikin in remarks to RIA Novosti news agency.
Alexander Tumaikin, press attache at the Russian Embassy in Jakarta, told RIA Novosti. He clarified that Putin’s speech via video link is not ruled out.
The news, first reported by CNBC Indonesia, was confirmed to The Washington Post by Pandjaitan’s deputy and ends months of speculation over whether the G-20 meeting would bring Putin and President Biden together for their first face-to-face meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russian presence at G-20 meeting reveals a fragmented global community
Western leaders, including Biden, have since the start of the year called for Putin to be excluded from the summit, which gathers the world’s 20 biggest economies to discuss pressing issues.
Putin’s representatives said in March that he planned to attend the meetings, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo affirmed that in August. These assertions were thrown into doubt in recent weeks as Biden confirmed his participation and Russia suffered major losses in Ukraine. In a significant setback Wednesday, Russia withdrew troops from the southern city of Kherson.
For months, the question of Putin’s attendance has vexed Indonesian officials, who worried that next week’s summit would be overshadowed by the geopolitical tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Indonesia has sought to keep a neutral position on the war, maintaining diplomatic relations with Russia and Ukraine. In April, it was among 58 countries that abstained from a vote to suspend Russia from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.
“The G-20 is not meant to be a political forum,” Widodo told the Financial Times earlier this week. “It’s meant to be about economics and development.”
Along with Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend the G-20 in person, and the two leaders are widely expected to meet.