White House braces for potential Biden-Putin showdown at G20

But no decision to boycott the leaders’ summit, still six months away, has been taken. Officials said there is unlikely to be a decision in the short term as they weigh the downsides of skipping the event and handing the table over to Russia and China.

“The president has publicly expressed his opposition to President Putin’s participation in the G20,” press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

She said it was too early to tell what the summit would be like.

“It’s in six months. So we don’t know how to predict, we can’t predict at this point, what it’s going to look like,” she said, adding, “We’ve expressed our point of view that we don’t think they should make of it. publicly and privately as well. »

The White House is realistic that the G20 will not collectively remove Russia from its ranks, as the decision would likely require consensus and China has made it clear that it does not support such a move. This makes it a different scenario than when Russia was expelled from the G8 after its annexation of Crimea.

PSAKI said the White House understood Indonesia had invited Putin to attend before Russia invaded Ukraine. Yet, in a statement, the country’s president stressed the unity among the member countries.

“Indonesia wants to unite the G20. Don’t let there be a split. Peace and stability are the keys to the recovery and development of the global economy,” President Joko Widodo said in an Indonesian cabinet statement on Friday, confirming that Putin had accepted his invitation to attend.

Widodo also extended an invitation earlier this week to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who tweeted that he was “grateful” for the invitation, but did not say whether he would attend the summit.

Widodo spoke with Putin and Zelensky in separate phone calls this week, in which he told the Russian president the importance of ending the war in Ukraine ‘immediately’ and Indonesia’s desire to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, the statement said.

Widodo said he conveyed to Zelensky Indonesia the willingness to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but not military assistance, which he said is prohibited by Indonesia’s constitution and its foreign policy principles.

The confirmation of Putin’s attendance sets up a potentially complicated summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, which is expected to begin in early November. White House officials considered a number of different scenarios, including potentially sending a lower-level delegation or participating remotely. But Biden present in person is still seen as the most likely outcome, even if Putin is also there, officials say.

PSAKI said there was no indication that Russia was willing to engage in serious diplomacy.

“There’s a lot that could happen between now and then, but we certainly haven’t seen any indication so far of Russia’s plan to participate constructively in the diplomatic talks,” he said. she stated. “Our hope is certainly that this will change because obviously talks and diplomatic conversations are the way to end this conflict and President Putin could end this tomorrow, could end this now. »

Earlier this month, finance ministers from several countries, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, walked out of a closed G20 session in Washington when the Russian envoy began his prepared remarks, a show of protest against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Prior to the meeting, U.S. officials said Yellen would not attend certain sessions of the rally that included Russia. And Biden told a NATO flash summit in March that he would support Russia’s ejection from the G20.

Other than that, Biden said Ukraine should be invited to participate. He said he discussed the issue with other leaders in his meetings.

Jorge Engels of Les actualites contributed to this report.

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