Wanting To Avoid Pariah Treatment, Putin Will Skip G20 Summit
After months of speculation over a potentially very awkward showdown with Western leaders and media at the Bali G20 meeting, on Wednesday it’s being widely reported that President Vladimir Putin will skip the Group of 20 summit next week.
Bloomberg is citing “people familiar with the planning” who described that the Kremlin is seeking “to protect the president from potential high-level tensions over his invasion of Ukraine.” Essentially this will preempt the possibility of embarrassing “cold shoulder” moments and the photo ops that could arise.
As Bloomberg also emphasizes, “The Kremlin also risked Putin being shunned by European leaders at the Nov. 15-16 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.”
There remains the question of whether Putin will give a virtual address to world leaders gathered in Indonesia, which will include President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping. But according to the latest reports, there will be no virtual address either. Instead, Russian Minister Sergei Lavrov will attend in Putin’s place.
Even a virtual address runs the risk of Putin likely subjecting himself to a spectacle wherein some among the other heads of state gathered the G20 stage a “walk-out” – as has been done in the recent past whenever Russian officials address large international forums.
The last example of someone being given pariah status at a G20 was Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018 in Buenos Aires. He had been sidelined and publicly shunned during the official “family photo” of world leaders – seen standing on the far edge and largely ignored.
That had been soon after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October of that year. MbS’ presence at the G20 at that time made for deeply awkward moments which were filmed and photographed.
Likely, the Kremlin has calculated that it’s just not worth the potential for Putin to receive the same or worse treatment on such a visible international stage at this time, particularly when things aren’t going fully as planned in Ukraine either.
On Tuesday, Indonesian president and summit host Joko Widodo told the Financial Times that he has a “strong impression” Putin will be skipping the event, which now is confirmed. Ukraine and its backers will greet this as a symbolic albeit small “victory” on the world stage.