‘Contempt’: Anthony Albanese makes G20 summit promise to Vladimir Putin
Anthony Albanese says he will treat Russian President Vladimir Putin with the “contempt he deserves” if he sees him at the G20 summit.
The Prime Minister had already committed to representing Australia at the summit in Bali in November, even if Mr Putin followed through with his own promise to attend.
Mr Albanese on Thursday said he doubted whether Mr Putin would actually attend the forum amid widespread global condemnation of his military assault against Ukraine.
Russia remains a member nation of the G20 intergovernmental group despite being shunned by most of the international community.
Mr Albanese told Sky News: “I think that if he does attend the G20 summit, which I doubt whether he will, then the world needs to send a very clear message about how we regard him and his behaviour to work towards undermining the rules based order.”
He said he wouldn’t be “breaking bread” with Mr Putin, particularly given his visit to Ukraine this week at the invitation of its president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Nonetheless, Mr Albanese said it was important that the G20 summit was successful.
“It is important for Indonesia, that it is a success,” he said.
“But it’s (also) important for the world, as we’re emerging from the global pandemic, with a war in Europe (and) with increased strategic competition and outreach.”
Mr Albanese had confirmed he would attend the summit during his visit to Indonesia in early June.
Asked at the time about his decision to attend, Mr Albanese said: “I’m focused on sitting with (Indonesian President Joko Widodo). Not sitting with President Putin”.
Mr Albanese emphasised the need for Australia to maintain good relations with Indonesia, but said there were understandable concerns about President Putin’s attendance.
“I said before I travelled to Indonesia … that Vladimir Putin attended previous meetings in Australia hosted by (former prime minister) Tony Abbott — that didn’t mean that we agree with his stance,” Mr Albanese said.
“Indeed, we find President Putin’s behaviour to be abhorrent, to be illegal, to be a travesty of the international order.”
Mr Putin in April confirmed he would attend the meeting in a conversation with Mr Widodo. Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, despite Ukraine not being a G20 member.
“President Putin extended thanks for the invitation to the G20 summit and he said he will attend,” Mr Widodo said at the time.
Former prime minister Scott Morrison had said it would be a step too far to share the summit table with Mr Putin when Russian troops have been accused of committing war crimes in their invasion of Ukraine.