The Kremlin is opening up Vladimir Putin’s schedule around this year’s G-20 summit in India in September to make it possible for the Russian president to participate in the leaders’ gathering after skipping the last two, according to people familiar with the planning.
Kremlin defiance is growing as efforts by the US and its allies to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine are stalling in the face of reluctance among other countries to join. For the moment, the Kremlin is planning for him to participate in the summit though no final decision has been made, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss plans that aren’t yet public.
Officials this week shifted the dates for an annual economic forum in Vladivostok, which had been set for the eve of the Sept. 9-10 summit, to a week later to give Putin greater flexibility and open the possibility that senior officials from India and China might attend the forum, the people said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment.
Formally, India has invited Putin to the G-20 summit and the Kremlin has accepted. But last year, amid pressure from the US and its allies over the war, Putin dropped plans to attend the gathering in Indonesia and sent Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his place. He also skipped the G-20 meeting in Rome a year earlier while he was planning his invasion of Ukraine.
Since November, however, the Kremlin has found itself a bit less isolated in the group. At the meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in New Delhi in early March, Russia and China rejected wording on the war that had been agreed at the leaders’ summit in Indonesia less than six months before. They teamed up to block India, the host country, from negotiating a compromise.
China Joins Russia in Refusing to Agree to G-20 Statement on War
Russia has hardened its position since the fall after the US and its allies agreed to step up weapons supplies to Ukraine early this year, according to a person familiar with Kremlin thinking.
A similar meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank heads failed to reach a consensus on the language. Russia has stopped sending senior economic officials to such gatherings, seeing their participation as pointless, according to people familiar with the decisions.
The Kremlin has said Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Moscow this year, as trade between the two countries surges despite sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and its allies over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
India, meanwhile, may send a government minister to represent the country at Putin’s annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum again in June this year, according to people familiar with the plans. A final decision will be up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian leader didn’t hold an annual in-person summit with Putin last year, for only the second time in the last two decades. India and Russia are, however, continuing with established diplomatic engagements despite unease in New Delhi over Russia’s war in Ukraine. India hasn’t joined the US and European sanctions and has seen trade surge with Russia since the invasion.