Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking likely to leave the G20 summit early, with plans to bring forward a news conference and skip an official lunch tomorrow.
Putin has been copping heat from fellow leaders over Russian military activity in Ukraine and the suspected involvement in the downing of MH17. Sources close to Putin have told Bloomberg be might have to leave early because he has meetings “on Monday in Moscow and the flight is very long.”
Yesterday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper confronted Putin over Russia’s military involvement in eastern Ukraine – something Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatened to do, but was widely seen to have squibbed.
When meeting Putin yesterday, Harper said:
“Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.”
298 people died in the MH17 disaster, including 38 Australian citizens and residents. One Canadian citizen was killed.
Only hours before yesterday’s official commencement of the G20 events, Russia released satellite images which appear to show the Malaysia Airlines MH17 aircraft being shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.
The images, aired by Russia state new agency, allegedly show a Mig-29 fighter jet firing a missile towards the Boeing 777 MAS plane.
The images were broadcast with a report that accused Western governments of a plot to pin the blame for MH17 on Moscow. Read more on that here.
Despite being the centre of the proceedings at last week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, yesterday Putin’s involvement at the G20 Summit was very different.
His isolation from the other world leaders was evident in his positioning of the formal G20 leaders’ photograph, where he is on the outer edge, his seating arrangement for Abbott’s address to the group, at the other end of the room, and he was one of the last in line to enter the Brisbane venue.
When US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping arrived in Australia for the summit they were met by Australia’s Governor-General and the Attorney General. Putin was greeted by the assistant defence minister.
Earlier in the year, the US and the EU imposed a series of sanctions on finance, energy and defence sectors in Russia. The sanctions were instituted in an effort to further isolate Russia politically and economically.
In retaliation, Russia banned imports of certain Western goods.
The sanctions have put an added pressure on the Russian economy which is struggling with falling energy prices. In fact, yesterday Putin announced the country is preparing for a “catastrophic decline in energy prices”.
Here’s a look at some of the photos from yesterday’s proceedings.
Read more here.
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