G20: Indonesia prepares to host Ukrainian and Russian leaders at Bali summit

Meeting would mark first encounter between Zelenskyy and Putin since outbreak of war

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been invited to attend this year's event. Getty / AFP
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy are expected to attend this year’s G20 summit in Indonesia.

Should they travel to Bali next month, it will be the first time they will have shared a platform since the war between their two countries began in February.

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE Husin Bagis expressed his hope that they would attend in an exclusive interview with The National, adding: “The situation isn’t easy because of the Ukraine-Russia war.”

The White House has said that if Mr Putin attends, Mr Zelenskyy should also participate.

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden did not rule out meeting Mr Putin during the summit.

Mr Bagis said logistical preparations for hosting the two presidents were already under way.

“We are deciding which hotels to put them up in ― one for Mr Putin and one for Mr Zelenskyy,” he said, referring to the need to avoid tension by putting them too close together.

“Indonesia is different than other countries,” he said. “Everything is peaceful in my country.”

Neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian foreign ministry responded to The National's requests to confirm plans for the leaders to attend the meeting in Bali on November 15 and 16.

The multilateral forum on the island in November is expected to bring together the leaders of 20 of the world's largest economies as well as guest nations such as the UAE and Ukraine.

“Ukraine is not part of the G20, but still we are inviting them, as we are inviting the UAE because of our special relationship with the UAE,” Mr Bagis said.

Peace will rank high on the agenda, along with health, digital transformation and sustainable energy transition.

“We want to make the G20 a platform for peace, not conflict,” Mr Bagis said at his office in Abu Dhabi.

Ukraine's president says a meeting with Putin is the only way to end the war

Ukraine's president says a meeting with Putin is the only way to end the war

The presence of Mr Putin and Mr Zelenskyy, who has used global forums to appeal for support to end the conflict, would be the result of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s attempts at shuttle diplomacy in Ukraine and Russia in June this year, while on his way to visit the UAE, Mr Bagis said.

Mr Widodo, the chair of the G20 nations, is keen to urge both sides to agree to a ceasefire and reopen channels for grain exports to ensure food security.

The Iran nuclear deal and the civil war in Syria are unlikely to be part of the conversation at the summit, Mr Bagis said.

Formed in 1999, the G20 members account for 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the world's population, making the forum a key platform for international economic co-operation.

The group addresses issues related to the global economy and financial stability as well as climate change and sustainable development.

India will host its first G20 summit in New Delhi in September next year.

This article has been updated following clarification of Ambassador Bagis's original statement to ‘The National’, as written confirmation of the two leaders' attendance had not yet been received by Indonesian authorities.

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Updated: October 07, 2022, 5:30 PM