British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Wednesday against boycotting a G20 summit in Indonesia in November if Vladimir Putin attends, saying this would hand a “propaganda opportunity to others”.
Indonesia holds the rotating presidency of the G20 this year and Jakarta has come under Western pressure to exclude Russia’s president from the gathering after announcing in April he had been invited.
“I would be absolutely amazed if Putin goes in person. He’s a pariah figure,” Johnson told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid.
“I don’t think he will go. The question is do we as Western countries vacate our seats at the G20 and leave the whole argument to China, to Russia?” he said.
“I think if you vacate something like the G20, you risk just handing the propaganda opportunity to others.”
The Kremlin has said Putin will attend the November 15-16 summit.
Indonesia, like most major emerging economies, has tried to maintain a neutral position and called for a peaceful resolution to Russia’s months-long offensive in Ukraine.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo was on Wednesday in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and will travel to Moscow on Thursday.
He also took part in the G7 summit in Germany earlier this week.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday said G7 leaders “don’t want to drive the G20 apart” and for now they are still planning “to go there”, referring to the Indonesia summit.
Putin joined last October’s G20 summit in Rome via videoconference due to the coronavirus crisis.