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Russia will be represented by Lavrov, not Putin, at G20 summit: officials

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend a gathering of leaders from the Group of 20 (G20) nations on the resort island of Bali next week, Indonesian and Russian officials have said.

Putin will instead be represented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the officials said on Thursday.

The Russian president is set to join one of the meetings at the summit virtually, said Jodi Mahardi, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs.

As G20 host, Indonesia has resisted pressure from Western countries and Ukraine to withdraw its invitation to Putin from the summit and expel Russia from the group over the war in Ukraine, saying it does not have the authority to do so without consensus among members.

A spokesperson at Russia’s embassy in Indonesia confirmed Putin would not attend the summit, but did not provide further explanation.

Western powers, Russia face off over Ukraine at G20 meeting

Geopolitical frictions

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had been attempting to mediate the geopolitical friction between powers in the G20. 

Meetings this year included walkouts and threats of boycotts sparked by tensions over the incursion, which Russia calls a “special operation”.

“(The president) has tried to ensure that every one cools down and that seems to be happening now,” Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan told local media in Bali.

The president, who is widely known as Jokowi, in a recent interview with the Financial Times said Russia was welcome at the summit, which he feared would be overshadowed by a “very worrying” rise in international tensions.

“The G20 is not meant to be a political forum. It’s meant to be about economics and development,” he was quoted as saying. 

Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has said he would not take part if Putin does and was expected to join virtually.

A number of other world leaders are due to attend the summit that starts on Nov. 15, including US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

READ MORE: Russia attends G20 meeting set to be overshadowed by Ukraine conflict

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