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”, previously said he had no intention of meeting Putin at the summit if he attended.
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.
Russia on Wednesday ordered its troops to withdraw from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine in a further setback in the face of Kyiv’s counter-offensive.
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 Zelenskyy is expected to attend the summit virtually.
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