Putin Leaves G-20 Summit after Severe Criticism over Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday left Brisbane after finishing up at the G-20 summit where he came under heavy pressure from Western leaders over Moscow’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.
At a final news conference at his hotel with Russian media he told reporters he was leaving as the only event left was the leader's lunch, and it was a long flight back to Russia and he needed to catch up on sleep before going back to work on Monday.
Looking tired, the Russian president said the atmosphere at the summit was constructive and media reports of conflict with Western leaders were exaggerated.
In an apparent diplomatic snub Putin was met on arrival in Brisbane by Australia's assistant defence minister Stuart Robert, while In comparison, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Attorney-General George Brandis welcomed other leaders.
At the summit, Western leaders warned Putin that he risked more economic sanctions if he failed to put an end to alleged Russian backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine. Russia has denied any involvement in an escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 people since April.
US President Obama said his country was at the forefront of "opposing Russia's aggression against Ukraine, which is a threat to the world”, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU was considering new asset freezes against Russian individuals because of the Ukraine crisis.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that Russia faced further sanctions if it didn't commit to resolving the crisis in Ukraine.
While the Ukrainian conflict was not on the official agenda of the summit, it was in the focus of Putin’s bilateral meetings with other world leaders in Brisbane, the Russian president told the news conference.
“I must say the talks were very frank, meaningful and – in my view – useful,” Putin said.
He described the economic blockade imposed by the government in Kiev on separatist eastern regions as a ‘’big mistake’’.
“I don’t understand why Kiev authorities are cutting off those territories with their own hands. Well, one can understand – to save money - but it’s not the case and not the time to save money on.”
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