Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend next week's Group of 20 summits in Indonesia. On Thursday (10 November), an Indonesian government official said to avoid a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies over its war in Ukraine. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, head of support for G-20 events, said Putin's decision not to come was "the best thing for all of us."The two-day summit, which begins next Tuesday, will be attended by US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and other world leaders. The summit would be the first time when Biden and Putin have been in a gathering together since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo holds an event on the island of Bali. "It has been officially informed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G-20 summit and will be represented by a high-ranking official, as discussed by President Joko Widodo and Putin in previous telephone conversations," Pandjaitan said. After meeting with security officials in Denpasar, the capital of Bali. "Whatever happens with Russia's decision, it is for our common good and best for all of us," added Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment. He previously stated that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would lead the Russian delegation.
Pandjaitan did not know why Putin decided not to come but said, "maybe it's because President Putin is busy at home, and we have to respect that as well." Pandjaitan confirmed that keeping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at home could be the same reason. Widodo traveled to Kyiv and Moscow earlier this year in an attempt to get the two leaders to sit down in Bali and make peace. The Russian Foreign Ministry and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed later on Thursday that Lavrov would head the Russian delegation to the G-20 summit instead of Putin. He did not give a reason.
Putin's decision not to attend the summit comes as Russian forces have suffered significant setbacks in Ukraine. The Russian military has announced it will withdraw from Kherson, the only Ukrainian regional capital it has captured and the gateway to Russian-occupied Crimea. Russia's announced withdrawal from Kherson and a potential stalemate in fighting over the winter could provide an opportunity for the two countries to negotiate peace, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday. He said up to 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and "more than" 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded in the war, now in its ninth month.
"Probably the same on the Ukrainian side," added Milley. The G-20 is the largest of three summits in Southeast Asia this week and next, and it remains to be seen whether Lavrov will represent Russia at all of them. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit began Thursday in Cambodia's Phnom Penh, followed by the G-20 summit and then the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, Thailand. Biden will attend ASEAN and the G-20, while Vice President Kamala Harris will attend APEC. Biden is expected to meet with Xi in Bali. Biden has ruled out meeting Putin if he attends the summit, saying the only conversation he could have with the Russian leader would be to discuss a deal to free Americans imprisoned in Russia. Biden administration officials said they were coordinating with global counterparts to isolate Putin should he attend in person or virtually. They discussed boycotts or other expressions of condemnation.