Putin won’t join US, other countries at summit. He doesn’t want to hear about Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia next week, avoiding a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies over his war in Ukraine, an Indonesian government official said Thursday.

U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders are to attend the two-day summit in Bali that starts Nov. 15. The summit was to have been the first time Biden and Putin would have been together at a gathering since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Chief of Support for G-20 events told reporters in Denpasar, Indonesia, that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation.

“The Indonesian government respects the decision of the Russian government, which President Putin himself previously explained to President Joko Widodo in a very friendly telephone conversation,” said Pandjaitan, who is also the Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment.

Biden had ruled out meeting with Putin if he had attended the summit, and said the only conversation he could have possibly had with the Russian leader would be to discuss a deal to free Americans imprisoned in Russia.

Biden administration officials said they had been coordinating with global counterparts to isolate Putin if he had decided to participate either in person or virtually. They have discussed boycotts or other displays of condemnation.

Biden said Wednesday that he wants to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections are over.

“My hope is that now that the election is over, that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about a prisoner exchange,” Biden told reporters at a news conference.

He spoke hours after Griner’s lawyers revealed that she had been sent to a penal colony to serve her sentence for drug possession.

U.S. officials have for months tried to negotiate the release of Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan. But there have been no overt signs of progress.