With world leaders gathering in Australia for a summit meeting of the Group of 20 economic powers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States is “crudely violating” the spirit of international cooperation that should drive groups such as the G20.
In particular, Putin complained about the U.S.-led sanctions against Russia for its military activity in and around Ukraine. In an interview just before he arrived in Brisbane for the G20’s two-day meeting, the Kremlin leader said he will not bring up the issue of sanctions during the summit on Saturday and Sunday. However, he added, he will respond if other national leaders bring up the subject.
Ukraine, NATO and others have criticzed Russia this week of sending troops and heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine – the portion of the country that opposes the Kyiv government.
Australia’s prime minister says the G20 members should focus on economic issues during their upcoming meetings, despite the security situation in Ukraine and continuing debate over climate-change issues.
The recent movements of Russia’s naval and air forces also have aroused concern in many Western capitals. Australia sent its fleet into international waters to monitor the activity of four Russian warships that arrived off the country’s northeast coast.
Russia’s defense ministry said this week that its long-range warplanes would be conducting flights into the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, an area that has not seen Russian bombers overhead in recent years.
Russian authorities say their naval and air-force activities are merely routine training missions, testing the range of Russian military equipment. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott contends Putin is trying to “revive the lost glories of tsarism” for his country.
Putin is already in Brisbane for the G20 summit meetings. He spoke Friday in an interview with the official Russian news agency Tass in Vladivostok, as he was enroute to Australia.
U.S. President Barack Obama is traveling to Australia from Myanmar, also known as Burma, where he met with national leaders and called for continuing efforts toward democratic dialogue and equal rights following decades of military rule.