China Backs Russia Staying in G20, Vladimir Putin Expected at Next Summit

China has dismissed plans to isolate Russia further from the international community by voicing support for Vladimir Putin's attendance at the G20 summit later this year.

The West—chiefly the United States and its allies within the Group of Twenty—is discussing ways to exclude Moscow's representatives from the economic forum as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported this week. However, there is currently no mechanism to do so.

On Wednesday, Beijing dashed any hopes that it would recuse itself from a decision on the summit. "The G20 is the main forum for international economic cooperation. Russia is an important member, and no member has the right to expel another country," its Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing.

Beijing has failed to shake its unenviable image as Russia's key supporter one month into Putin's military campaign to topple Volodymyr Zelensky's government. In recent discussions with counterparts in Indonesia, where this year's G20 gathering is being held in October and November, Chinese officials lobbied the hosts to take the war in Ukraine off the agenda and focus on economic matters instead.

The global economy is still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is the group's responsibility to ensure that it does, said Wang. "The G20 should practice true multilateralism, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, and jointly respond to mounting challenges including in economy, finance and sustainable development."

According to Reuters, American officials responded positively to suggestions from Polish representatives that Russia should be replaced within the G20 in order to underline its status as an international pariah. Any collective decision to that effect is likely to be vetoed by Beijing and other governments with closer working relations with Moscow.

The Western allies are also discussing a partial boycott of sorts, Tuesday's report said. Around half the group's members have already imposed economic sanctions on Russia.

A cancelation at this stage is not likely, although that was the method used in 2014 by the G8—now once more the G7—to push out Moscow in response to Putin's annexation of Crimea. This was followed by several years of debates about bringing Russia back to the table.

Moscow, meanwhile, places more emphasis on the G20, which includes several major developing nations that are yet to openly condemn its invasion of Ukraine.

Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president who will host the leaders' forum in Bali in November, has also refrained from direct criticism of Putin, although Jakarta did vote in favor of a resolution deploring Russia's war at the United Nations General Assembly this month. G20 members who abstained in the March 2 vote included China, India and South Africa.

Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against the motion, which received 141 yes votes.

Lyudmila Vorobieva, Russia's ambassador to Indonesia, told reporters on Wednesday that Putin intended to attend the G20 meeting. She called the West's efforts to expel her country "absolutely disproportional."

The Russian president is expected to travel, Vorobieva said, but plans could change depending on the public health situation and other factors.

China Backs Putin Attendance at G20 Summit
President Vladimir Putin waves during a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on March 18. China’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed a proposal to exclude Russia from the upcoming G20 summit in Indonesia during a press conference in Beijing on March 23. RAMIL SITDIKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images