Angry Australian Prime Minister Aims to Remove Russia from G-20 Summit

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had some harsh words for Russian President Putin, hinting Russia's role in the upcoming G20 Leaders Summit is now in jeopardy.

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The G20 Leaders Summit may be the G19 this November. Due to the Kremlin's suspected role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 this past Thursday, Australia is now pushing to exclude Russia from the summit to be held in Sydney. The event hosts 4,000 delegates and 3,000 media members, and is the most important event of the G20 year. It allows leaders from around the world to "discuss a wide range of global economic issues and to use their collective power to improve people’s lives." Russia's presence is becoming increasingly unwanted. 

Currently, the members of G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Australia will be the host this round, and Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, is the chairperson.

Abbott has not hidden his outrage over Russia's handling of the crash, and specifically, their involvement with separatists who control the site. Due to the harsh control of the separatists, investigators have not been able to properly examine or transport the bodies, and much of the evidence has disappeared. There were 28 Australian citizens on board MH17.

"Right now, for all we know, bodies remain strewn over the fields of the eastern Ukraine and armed rebels are trampling the site. It is absolutely vital that an international investigation begins as soon as possible," said Abbott, "The idea that Russia can wash its hands of responsibility because this happened in Ukrainian air space just does not stand serious scrutiny."

When asked if Putin should attend the G20 Summit, Abbott replied, "Let's wait and see what will happen." Abbott also shared his views with Russia's trade minister, whose department would be directly impacted if Russia is banned from G20. "Australia takes a very dim view of countries which facilitate the killing of Australians, as you would expect us to," said Abbott.

As for removing Russia from G20, Abbott has said that they "we want to ensure that visitors to this country have good will to this country, visitors to this country are people who have done the right thing by this country." On the other hand, Mexican economic minister Ildefonso Guardo has said blocking anyone from G20 would be bad for the group.

As for whether Australia can single-handedly block Russia from the G20 Leaders Summit is unclear. Russia's role in G8 was suspended earlier this year, however, G20 is a larger group with a larger range of developing nations. It might be difficult to reach agreement to ban them, but it seems Australia may do their best to try. Global sanctions, if they were to increase substantially, could also affect Russia's role in G20. 

Russia, of course, is rejecting Abbott's statements. The Russian foreign ministry issued this statement, "Without bothering himself about evidence and operating only on speculation, Mr Abbott assigned guilt. Mr Abbott’s statements are unacceptable."

While Russia is saying Abbott "assigned guilt," senior U.S. intelligence officials have been able to link Russia to the separatists, via the surface-to-air missile systems spotted in Ukraine.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.