Indonesia has asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be a guest at the G-20 summit, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Friday, belatedly confirming an invitation to the war-torn European nation’s leader that the United States had urged him to extend.
The Indonesian president also said that Vladimir Putin, the leader of G-20 member Russia whose military invaded Ukraine in February, had agreed to attend the same summit in Bali in mid-November, although the Kremlin had not confirmed his participation. Indonesia hold this year’s presidency of the grouping of the world’s top 20 economies.
“We know that the G-20 plays the role of catalyst in the global economic recovery and the two things are affecting the global economic recovery in a major way: COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine,” Jokowi said in a speech broadcast on YouTube.
“It is in this context that I invited President Zelenskyy to attend the G-20 summit,” he said of his call Wednesday with the Ukrainian president.
Meanwhile in Washington on Friday, the Pentagon’s press secretary said that Putin “absolutely shouldn’t be” welcomed at the G-20 summit.
“He isolated Russia by his own actions and should continue to be isolated by the international community … [as one of the] consequences of his actions in Ukraine,” John Kirby told CNN.
A day earlier, when asked whether President Joe Biden would attend the G-20 summit were Putin to attend as well, a White House spokeswoman indicated that a decision had yet to be made.
“[T]he President has been clear about his view: This shouldn’t be business as usual, and that Russia should not be a part of this,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
“But, again, [the G-20 summit] six months away; we don’t even have confirmation of these reports [about Putin’s attendance]. So I’m certainly not going to get into a hypothetical in this case.”
Southeast Asia analyst Derek J. Grossman said Indonesia’s invitation to Ukraine reflected its stated foreign policy.
“The nonaligned path in action,” the senior defense analyst at the Rand Corp., a U.S. think-tank, said on Twitter.
Ukraine is not a G-20 member, but Indonesia, as the holder of the group’s presidency, can invite leaders of non-member countries as guests. Zelenskyy on Wednesday pre-empted Indonesia by announcing via Twitter that Jokowi had invited him to the summit.
His attendance at the G-20 summit would “depend mainly on the situation in the battlefield,” Vysotskyi Taras, a senior Ukrainian government official, was quoted by Reuters as saying on Thursday.
‘War must be stopped immediately’
Jokowi, however, said he had turned down a request by Zelenskyy that Indonesia send weapons to Ukraine.
“I reaffirmed [to Zelenskyy] that in line with our constitution and our independent and active foreign policy, we cannot send arms support to other countries, but we are prepared to send humanitarian aid,” Jokowi said.
The Indonesian leader also said he had called for an end to the war, in his telephone conversation with Putin on Thursday.
“It should be underlined that the war must be stopped immediately and peace negotiations be given a chance. Indonesia is ready to contribute to achieving that goal,” Jokowi said.
“President Putin expressed gratitude for the invitation to the G-20 summit and said that he would attend,” he added.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would prepare for the summit but did not say whether Putin would go to Bali.
“Putin wished success for the Indonesian G-20 presidency and assured that Russia will do everything necessary and everything possible to contribute to it,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency TASS.
But, Peskov said, “it is premature to talk about any other modalities of our participation.”
Last month, President Biden said Ukraine should be able to participate in the G-20 summit, if the grouping did not expel Russia, the country that invaded its smaller neighbor and former Soviet socialist republic next-door on Feb. 24.
Washington went a step farther on April 6, saying that it would boycott some of the group’s meetings if Russian officials attended, which it then did later in the month.
On April 20, several nations, including Ukraine and the United States, walked out when Russian officials addressed a G-20 meeting convened by Indonesia in Washington. Indonesia had invited all members, including Russia, to attend the group’s meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs that day.
Shailaja Neelakantan in Washington contributed to this report for BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.