President Putin has not learned his lesson from the G8 experience. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. The G8 canceled its summit in Sochi, Russia, and expelled Russia, shrinking the forum to become the G7.
Fast forward to 2022, and he has committed a similar offense by invading Ukraine. In a show of solidarity with Kyiv and to isolate Moscow, many world leaders want to exclude Russia from this year's G20 summit, scheduled to be held in Indonesia in October.
The twenty nations in the G20 include both developing and developed countries. The current members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. They account for 80% of the world's GDP and 75% of global exports. Two-thirds of the world's population lives in these countries. The leaders of these 20 nations meet each year to share their views on the economy, trade, and policies.
President Biden, speaking in Brussels on Thursday, said Russia should not attend the G20 meeting in Indonesia in October 2022.
President Putin seems to be beyond reason. The ceasefire talks between Moscow and Kyiv are hardly making progress, and the ruthless attack on Ukraine continues. Before the Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border, many world leaders, including France's Macron, Germany's Scholz, and Turkey's Erdogan, visited Moscow to dissuade the Russian leader from attacking his neighbor. President Biden also had video conferences to urge Putin to desist. However, their efforts to find a diplomatic solution were in vain.
Let us not mince words. President Putin's actions have made him a war criminal.
Russian troops have targeted civilians and slaughtered innocent people. They have bombed a kindergarten, maternity hospitals, and places of worship within Ukraine. Putin's war has displaced over 3 million people so far. As a result, Europe is in the middle of an unimaginable refugee crisis.
The Russian President has also threatened to use nuclear weapons. He has used chemical weapons in Syria and is likely to do so again if he runs into stiff opposition from Ukraine. His state or those acting for the state also engage in regular cyberattacks in Ukraine. President Biden recently warned the country about potential cyberattacks on American businesses.
The world cannot be an enabler and refuse to punish President Putin for his bad behavior. Allowing Russia to continue in the G20 sends the wrong message.
Despite its heinous attack on Ukraine, Russia has not lost all its allies yet. Beijing, another regime with similar traits, has chimed in to defend Moscow. "Russia is an important member, and no member has the right to expel another country," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
China has its own set of reasons for siding with Russia. It has been stonewalling a robust investigation into the origin of the coronavirus. The virus has killed over six million people worldwide, and there is no end to the pandemic as mutations of the virus continue to wreak havoc. Like Russia, China also takes an aggressive and often incendiary approach towards its neighbors. Beijing has been buzzing with its jets, harassing tiny Taiwan, and its treatment of Uighurs has been condemned as genocide.
To his credit, Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, is calling for Putin to be booted from the G20. "This is a violent and aggressive act that shatters the international rule of law, and the idea of sitting around the table with Vladimir Putin ... for me is a step too far," he said on Thursday. Morrison added, "I would be disappointed if ... the real purposes of [the G20] were not able to be achieved, so I think we need to have people in the room that aren't invading other countries."
True, the G20 is not a membership organization. In an ideal world, Putin would disinvite himself. But that may not happen. Russia's Indonesian ambassador confirmed President Putin's intention to attend the Bali summit. She urged President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to resist "horrible pressure" from the West.
Nothing can justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its targeting of civilians. The conflict could have been resolved without picking up arms had Moscow been willing to give diplomacy and peace a chance.
The world must isolate President Putin and teach him a lesson. If he still wants to attend the G20 summit in Bali, the rest of the world should boycott the event.
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