There’s a growing international view that Russian President Vladimir Putin shouldn’t attend the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane, Trade Minister Andrew Robb says.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will use a NATO summit in Wales this week to lobby other G20 nations to block Mr Putin from the November meeting, as the conflict in Ukraine intensifies.
Mr Robb said Ms Bishop and Defence Minister David Johnston will be “canvassing” the views of other G20 leaders in Wales.
‘It’s not a decision we can take unilaterally,’ Mr Robb told ABC radio on Tuesday.
‘I think increasingly people are taking a very concerned view about his presence. But we’ll see what comes out of those discussions.’
Australia is ramping up sanctions against the Putin government after Russian troops crossed the Ukraine border in a dramatic escalation of the conflict that has been dragging on for months.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has made it clear he does not want Mr Putin to visit Australia.
But he says he understands the government needs to consult with other G20 leaders before any decision can be made.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott took aim at Mr Putin over his recent comments in which he reminded the world that Russia has nuclear weapons, in what has been interpreted as a thinly-veiled threat.
‘It’s another sign of Russia’s bullying behaviour,’ Mr Abbott told Macquarie Radio.
Russia has been playing “nasty games” in Ukraine for months and now “it’s a war”, he said.
Mr Abbott also gave an update on the identification of Australian victims of the MH17 disaster.
The first of the 38 Australians killed have begun returning home in recent days.
‘I gather good progress is being made,’ Mr Abbott said of the identification process in the Netherlands.
‘My understanding is they’re well advanced but the process of identifying people after an accident – an atrocity – as horrific as this is necessarily slow.’
The Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by Russian-backed rebels over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board.