Vladmir Putin will be pulling 17,000 troops from the border with Ukraine, while he prepares for the G-20 Summit in Australia next month. This was announced by a spokesman for Mr. Putin while he was in Sochi to attend the first annual Russian Grand Prix. He said that the troops there had completed a training exercise in the region of Rostov. Putin will be meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko next week. Poroshenko has been trying to pressure Putin and Russia into agreeing to a ceasefire to ease tensions in the region.
In the meantime, Putin will indeed attend the G-20 Summit next month in Brisbane, Australia. That much is assured, even though questions and criticisms continue to swirl over Russia’s role in the Ukrainian crisis. This is particularly true in the nation that will be hosting the G-20 Summit. Some Australians died from an attack that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 as it flew over the disputed region of Ukraine.
The controversy revolving around Vladmir Putin and Russia’s role in Ukraine has many less than thrilled at the prospect of his attending the G-20 Summit in Australia in November. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised to confront Putin over the attack that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukrainian airspace, when some Australian lives were lost, and that he would demand that Russia cooperate fully with the investigation.
In the meantime, Bill Shorten, the Opposition Leader in Australia, suggested that Putin’s presence at the economic summit would be insulting, like a slap in the face to the world community. Shorten feels that Putin has acted as a bully, and that Australia welcoming him into the country sends the wrong message. He said he would refuse to meet with the Russian leader during his Australian visit, and that the government was showing weakness after talking tough against Putin in the past.
The Australian government has confirmed that Putin will indeed be attending the G-20 summit to be held in Brisbane. While in Washington to meet with officials there, Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed that Vladmir Putin would be present during the G-20 Summit. Prime Minister Abbott said that it was not in Australia’s power to prevent a world leader from attending the conference. He acknowledged that many Australians would be unhappy to see Putin in their country, shaking hands with the Prime Minister, as some view Putin as a bully in his approach to Ukraine, as well as for the unanswered questions regarding the role of Putin and Russia regarding the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine.
Still, Vladmir Putin has ordered the significant troop withdrawal from the Russian border with Ukraine, perhaps as a gesture of good will in anticipation of his attending the G-20 Summit. That many Australians are opposed to Vladmir Putin being in their country and attending the meeting is obvious, as critics are likely to continue to suggest that his presence there lends him a legitimacy in the community of world leaders that the Russian president does not deserve.
By Charles Bordeau
ABC News – Ukraine Crisis
ABC News – Russian President
Photo by DAVOS-KLOSTERS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN09 – Flickr