Jakarta, Indonesia — Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G20 summit in Indonesia next week, an Indonesian government official said Thursday, avoiding a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies over its war in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders are due to attend the two-day summit in Bali which begins on November 15. The summit was expected to be the first time Biden and Putin have been together at a rally from Russia. invaded Ukraine in February.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the G-20 event support chief, told reporters in Denpasar, Indonesia that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation.
“The Indonesian government respects the decision of the Russian government, which President Putin himself previously explained to President Joko Widodo in a very friendly telephone conversation,” said Pandjaitan, who is also the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and the investment.
Widodo, which hosts the G-20 and Pandjaitan, said “we hope good communication between the two leaders can reduce tensions between Russia and Ukraine.”
The G-20 is the biggest of three summits being held in Southeast Asia this week and next, and it’s unclear whether Lavrov will represent Russia at all of them. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit kicked off Thursday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, followed by the G-20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
Biden will attend ASEAN and the G-20 while Vice President Kamala Harris will visit APEC. He should have a meeting with Xi in Bali.
Biden had ruled out meeting Putin if he attended the summit, and said the only conversation he could have had with the Russian leader would be to discuss a deal to release Americans imprisoned in Russia.
Biden administration officials said they had coordinated with their global counterparts to isolate Putin if he decided to participate in person or virtually. They discussed boycotts or other demonstrations of condemnation.
Putin’s decision not to participate in the G-20 comes as Russian forces in Ukraine have suffered significant setbacks. The Russian military has said it will withdraw from Kherson, which is the only Ukrainian regional capital it has captured and a gateway to the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.
Russia’s announced withdrawal from Kherson as well as a possible stalemate in fighting over the winter could provide the two countries with an opportunity to negotiate peace, Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He said as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “well over” 100,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured in the war, now in its ninth month. “The same probably on the Ukrainian side,” Milley added.