SIDNEY, June 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Despite the mounting Western pressure on Russia over its stance on the developments in neighboring Ukraine, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said Russia’s presence was welcome at the summit of leaders of world’s 20 largest economies (G20) scheduled for this year’s fall.
The statement of Abbot, whose country currently holds the rotating chair in G20 and hosts the organization’s summit in Brisbane on November 15-16, comes after the Group of Eight (G8) of most industrialized world powers held the summit in Brussels on June 4-5 without Russia’s participation.
“The G20 is an economic meeting whereas the G7 or the G8 has tended to have a very strong security component,” Abbot said, speaking late on Thursday night in the French capital on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings of Allied forces on the Normandy coast on June 6.
Russia excluded from G7 summit
Although Russia is currently holding the G8 rotating chair, leaders of the organization’s member states, which besides Russia comprises France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada, announced on March 24, 2014 that they would not attend the Sochi Summit in Russia and would instead hold a G7 meeting in Brussels, excluding Russia.
The announcement came after Putin signed on March 21 the federal constitutional law on accession of two new constituent members to the Russian Federation - the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.
“Obviously there are very grave concerns about the behavior of Russia in Ukraine, and I can understand why the G7 leaders were reluctant to sit down with President Putin at this time, but when it comes to the prosperity of the world, when it comes to the management of international finances, when it comes to harmonization of taxation rules, when it comes to trying to promote global growth, I think it is best if we include Russia, so at this point in time, I'm expecting Russia to be well and truly part of the G20 in November,” Abbot said.
President Putin is currently in France for the commemorative events and this is his first visit to Western Europe after the crisis erupted in Ukraine. As he arrived to the French capital on Thursday, he discussed the Ukrainian issue with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The United States and the European Union already imposed a set of sanctions against Russia and warned of further sanctions over Russia’s alleged involvement in the ongoing bloody conflict in Ukraine’s south-eastern territories. Putin has repeatedly dismissed Western claims that Russia could in any way be involved in protests in Ukraine's southeast regions.
Massive protests against the new Kiev authorities, propelled to power during a coup in Ukraine in February, erupted in Ukraine’s south-eastern territories, mainly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, after Crimea’s reunification with Russia following a referendum in March.
Demonstrators in the south-east are demanding Ukraine’s federalization. A military operation by Kiev against federalization supporters has already claimed dozens of lives, including civilians.