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Monday, October 13, 2014

Putin is coming to the G20 in Brisbane

On Saturday, President Putin ordered the withdrawal of 17,600 Russian troops from the Ukrainian border.  Next month he will come to Australia to meet with the leaders of the world at the G20 in Brisbane. Could it be a planned strategy to get back in the good books with the west or just a coincidence?

Moscow has issued an official statement about the withdrawal - "training exercises in the southern Rostov region have ended" according to RIA Novosti news agency but to date, NATO has not confirmed that the Russian troops have started to move.

Australian Ukrainians are furious that Tony Abbott allowed him to come at all but the PM said there was nothing he could do to stop him.  The consensus of G20 members was that no ban be imposed on his attendance.  The PM wants to reassure the public that there will be "full and frank dialogue" with Mr Putin, especially regarding the investigation into the downing of MH17.

Stefan Romaniw from the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations is furious and said they were planning anti-Putin rallies during the summit.  He said that allowing him to come "is legitimizing Putin, rather than criticising him."

"The G20 is an international gathering that operates by consensus" the PM said.  "It's not Australia's right to say yes or no to individual members of the G20.  Russia is a member of the G20 and as such, we are obliged to accept the Russian leader in this country."  But he said it would be made "crystal clear" that the world expects Russia to co-operate fully with the MH17 investigations.

"I don't believe for a moment that President Putin wanted that plane brought down" Mr Abbott said. "But obviously Russian policy brought about a situation that caused this atrocity to take place - what I will be wanting from the Russian President is an assurance from him that he and Russia will do everything they can to ensure that justice is done."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made it clear that Mr Putin isn't welcome.  The government had "gone from talking tough to trying to pretend Putin coming here isn't an issue Australians are concerned about" he said.

He went on "It is disappointing the Abbott government couldn't use the leverage that hosting the G20 and holding a seat on the UN Security Council afforded, for preventing the attendance of Mr Putin."