Indonesia’s president has said he has a “strong impression” that Vladimir Putin will not attend next week’s summit of G20 leaders in Bali, the first meeting of the world’s largest economies since the Russian president launched his full-scale war against Ukraine.
The suggestion from Joko Widodo, who will host the summit, comes after the US rejected an offer by Indonesian officials to arrange a bilateral meeting between Putin and US president Joe Biden at the event, a senior US official said last month.
There has been speculation for weeks about Putin’s potential attendance at the Bali gathering, amid heightened tensions between Russia and western powers over Ukraine.
If the Russian president were to attend, it would be his first meeting since the start of his invasion in February with Biden and other Nato leaders, who have provided tens of billions of dollars in military support to Ukraine and imposed myriad economic sanctions on Moscow.
Widodo spoke to Putin last Wednesday about the G20 event and as a result of that call believed the Russian leader would not be attending, the Indonesian president said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Peskov told reporters earlier on Monday that the Kremlin would make a decision about Putin’s attendance this week.
Putin said last month: “Russia will definitely be represented [in Bali] at a high level. Maybe I will go, too. I will think about it.”
Widodo emphasised that the Russians remained welcome to attend the G20 meeting and that Indonesia hoped to facilitate international dialogue to counter what he called a “very worrying” rise in international tensions.
He also expressed frustration that geopolitical tensions would overshadow the summit: “The G20 is not meant to be a political forum,” he said. “It’s meant to be about economics and development.”
The Indonesians intend to put food and energy security at the centre of next week’s discussions, two issues that have become global concerns as a result of Putin’s invasion.
The G20 comprises 19 states and the EU. None of the governments sided with Russia to oppose a UN general assembly resolution condemning Moscow’s attempted annexation of four regions of eastern Ukraine last month. Just three G20 members abstained: China, India and South Africa.
Widodo has also invited Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the summit as a guest. Zelenskyy said last week that he would not attend if Putin did.
Since launching the war Putin has made foreign trips to four former Soviet states in Central Asia — Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — and Iran.