Tony Abbott affirms Russia’s G20 status is safe

Earlier this year, following Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, the rest of the G8 (Group of 8 Nations) disassembled itself and returned to being the G7, just to avoid working with Russia or going to the scheduled summit in Sochi.

The larger group, the G20, slated to meet in Australia this year, hadn’t taken any similar action to ostracize Russia. Australia’s Foreign Minister did quickly propose banning Russia after the G8’s decision, but the governments of Brazil, India, China, and South Africa joined Russia in complaining about the proposal and asserting it was not allowed. Since then, of course, things in Ukraine have gotten much worse and have affected Australian citizens, and so there are now many local objections in the Australian state of Queensland, where the summit is to be held next month.

Australia’s prime minister, who is not exactly known for being the most responsive to public opinion or complaints anyway, made clear yesterday that he would be allowing Vladimir Putin to attend.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has defended a decision not to ban Russian President Vladimir Putin from attending the G20 summit in Brisbane, saying “it’s not Australia’s right to say yes or no to individual members of the G20”.

 
Maybe it’s true that he can’t unilaterally kick Russia out of the group, but his characteristic bluntness was perhaps poorly deployed. Either way it doesn’t sound like he put in much effort or tried to find any workarounds (sanctions, travel bans, entry visas, etc.)…

Abbott also reminded everyone of all the reasons he probably ought to block Vladimir Putin from attending, but won’t.

“Obviously we had the MH17 atrocity earlier this year where 38 Australians were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment so there’s much to deplore in Russia’s foreign policy,” Mr Abbott said.

“But the G20 is an international gathering that operates by consensus.

“It’s not Australia’s right to say yes or no to individual members of the G20. Russia is a member of the G20 and as such, we’re obliged to accept the Russian leader in this country.”

And then, of course, he had to take it one step further, by trying to make excuses for the very actions he said should be “deplored.”

“I don’t believe for a moment that President Putin wanted that plane brought down.”

 
To paraphrase Arrow, “Tony Abbott, you have failed this summit.”

The Group of 20 (G20) Nations (Credit: Wikimedia)

The Group of 20 (G20) Nations (Credit: Wikimedia)

Map of crashed flight in Eastern Ukraine

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed today in the war zone of Eastern Ukraine’s Donets basin (Donbas). All 295 298 lives were lost. The cause is still unknown, but it appears someone shot it down. Eyewitness accounts say it was breaking apart as it came down from a reported 33,000 feet. The Russian-aligned rebels deny they have the capacity at that altitude, though they can and have hit lower planes, and they may not be telling the truth about their capacities. Ukraine’s military once accidentally shot down a Russian civilian airliner, back in 2001. Russia’s military also has the capacity to do so.

Below is an update of our Eastern Ukraine separatism map with the New York Times’ reported account and map of the flight path superimposed on it. You can also see our full map of the Southeastern Ukraine and Crimea crises here, for a wider geographic reference.

Eastern Ukraine highlighting Donetsk Oblast and separatist regions. Adapted from Arsenal For Democracy's complete 2014 Ukraine crisis map, with MH17 flight geography information from the New York Times.

Eastern Ukraine highlighting Donetsk Oblast and separatist regions. Adapted from Arsenal For Democracy’s complete 2014 Ukraine crisis map, with MH17 flight geography information from the New York Times.

Ukraine Crisis Map (as of Aug 28, 2014)

Updated Aug 28: To help clarify when you read news, here or elsewhere, on the crisis in Ukraine, below is a map highlighting key regions and cities in Southeastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as Ukraine’s neighbors and the disputed Russian-held Transdniestria region of Moldova. (November 12, 2014: See also our narrower, updated eastern Ukraine crisis map.)

Click to enlarge. Map created by Bill Humphrey for Arsenal For Democracy. Please link here if re-publishing.

Click to enlarge. Map created by Bill Humphrey for Arsenal For Democracy. Please link here if re-publishing.

August 28, 2014 Update Notes:
– Added Mariupol from our closeup Eastern Ukraine map [link changed, 11/12/14].
– Added Novoazovsk following August 27th Russian invasion.
– Added MH Flight 17 path from our MH Flight 17 crash map.
– Updated key.

May 2, 2014 Update Notes:
– Base map switched from Riwnodennyk’s 2008 Wikimedia map of Eastern Ukraine to Sven Teschke’s Oblast Donezk map from Ukrainian Wikipedia.
– All labels in Roman alphabet use conventional U.S. English transliterations. Cyrillic labeling used only for Russian Imperial-era place names.
– Highlighting for “Novorossiya” territory allusion by Vladmir Putin on April 17, 2014 added. Map already included Putin’s citation of the Russian separatists in Moldova.
– Added Donetsk city and Sloviansk. Odessa, site of May 2 protests, also marked with a blue dot, along with Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea.
– Map key added.