President Vladimir Putin has slammed G20 member countries for imposing sanctions on Russia, saying this violated the group’s principles but he does not plan to raise the issue at the summit in Australia.
Putin told the TASS state news agency in an interview published on Friday, ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit in Brisbane, that sanctions against Russia violated the G20’s principles and were “harmful”.
“The fact that certain countries of the G20 are imposing sanctions on Russia through the G20, of course, this contradicts the very principle of the G20’s activity,” he said.
“This also contradicts international law because sanctions can only be imposed through the United Nations and its Security Council.”
But he said he would not raise the topic of sanctions at the G20. “Why should I draw attention to this, ask for something? It’s pointless.”
Putin said he would hold bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the summit, where he was expected to face tough questioning from leaders on the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
“We have meetings planned there. With the German chancellor. Lots of different meetings,” Putin said.
Asked whether his relations with Merkel had become frostier lately, Putin said he had not noticed any difference.
“I haven’t noticed this. You know, we act on the basis of our interests, not personal liking or dislike,” Putin said. “And she (Merkel) has always acted on the basis of these interests, too.”
Merkel said on Friday that the conflict in Ukraine was likely to be the focus of talks on the summit’s margins even though it is not on the official agenda.
German government sources told AFP that Berlin saw a lack of progress on Ukraine and that was the message that would be communicated to Putin at the G20.
The German chancellor this week ruled out imposing new economic sanctions on Russia but said the EU was considering adding pro-Russian separatists to existing sanctions lists imposed on Moscow.
Putin is also set to hold meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.
Cameron on Friday accused Russia of “bullying” Ukraine and said its actions regarding its ex-Soviet neighbour were “unacceptable” in a speech to the Australian parliament.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will host the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies, for his part accused Putin of trying to relive “the lost glories of tsarism”.
Cool welcome in Brisbane
Australian leaders had been talking about what they’ll do when they see Mr Putin at G20, but it’s those who didn’t meet the Russian president who raised eyebrows.
He was greeted by Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey and Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Roberts on the runway at Brisbane airport on Friday night.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel touched down five minutes later a smiling Attorney-General George Brandis and Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney suddenly dashed out to the runway to meet her.
And within half an hour, as Chinese President Xi Jinping landed, even more senior officials seemed to appear from hiding places at the airport.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his wife Lisa joined Mr Brandis in meeting Mr Xi’s plane.