Putin Could Meet Joe Biden Face to Face for First Time Since Ukraine War

Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to attend a G20 summit being hosted by Indonesia in October, Russia's ambassador in Jakarta said Wednesday, possibly paving the way for the first in-person meeting between the Russian leader and U.S. President Joe Biden since the beginning of the Russo-Ukraine war.

Since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, the country has been met with an unprecedented wave of international sanctions that have crippled its economy and caused the ruble to plummet.

The Group of 20 and Group of Seven major economies are key international platforms for discussing political matters ranging from climate change to financial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Not only G20, many organizations are trying to expel Russia…the reaction of the West is absolutely disproportional," Russian ambassador Lyudmila Vorobieva told a news briefing Wednesday.

But if Putin does attend the G20 conference, scheduled for 30–31 October 2022, it will be the first time he has met with Biden since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

However, sources privy to the discussions told Reuters on Tuesday that the U.S. and its Western allies are assessing whether Russia should remain in the group of major economies.

Poland on Tuesday said that Russia should be removed from the G20. Piotr Nowak, Polish Minister for Economic Development and Technology, said in a statement that the matter was discussed during meetings in Washington last week.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's embassy in Jakarta for more comment.

A senior G7 source told Reuters that if Russia remains a G20 member, "it will become a less useful organization."

The person said it was unlikely that G20 chair Indonesia or members such as Brazil, China, India or South Africa would agree to remove Russia from the group.

They added that if the G7 countries boycotted this year's G20 meetings, it would send a powerful signal to India, which so far has not condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine. India was previously one of Russia's main Cold War allies.

"It has been made very clear to Indonesia that Russia's presence at forthcoming ministerial meetings would be highly problematic for European countries," a European Union (EU) source told Reuters.

But they added that there was no clear protocol for excluding a country from the influential group.

The G7 was once made into a "G8" format to include Russia during a period of warmer relations in the early 2000s. But Moscow was indefinitely suspended from the group after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Biden is in Brussels this week to meet with NATO allies to discuss the next steps for responding to the war in Ukraine and Russia's G20 status.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that Biden will address G7 leaders and EU members. The president will then meet with American troops in Poland who will fight to defend NATO territory if Russia moves its invasion west of Ukraine.

Putin/Biden
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden may end up meeting in person for the first time since the Ukraine invasion in October, at the G20 Summit in Indonesia. There are growing calls for Russia to be barred from the Group of 20 major economies. Getty