Putin exits testy G20 summit early, citing desire for sleep
Meeting dominated by exchanges over Ukraine, with Moscow accused of 'bullying' neighbor state
November 16, 2014 11:30AM ET
Russian President Vladimir Putin made an early exit from the G20 summit in Brisbane on Sunday, after being rounded on by Western leaders the day before over alleged meddling in Ukraine.
On Saturday, Moscow was accused of “bullying” by the U.K., while Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Putin to “get out of Ukraine” or face further sanctions.
After a series of snubs and criticisms at the summit and during one-on-one meetings with other leaders, Putin exited the summit Sunday skipping a planned working lunch. He said the decision to leave had nothing to do with tensions over Ukraine. Rather he had a long flight ahead of him and wanted to catch up on sleep.
“We need nine hours to fly from here to Vladivostok and another nine hours from Vladivostok to Moscow,” he said in comments reported by the RIA Novosti news agency.
“Then we need to get home and return to work Monday. There’s a need to sleep at least four to five hours,” he added.
But debate over the Ukraine crisis has overshadowed events at the G20 summit, at which nations agreed Sunday to boost flagging global growth, tackle climate change and crack down on tax avoidance.
Several Western nations warned Russia of further sanctions if it did not withdraw troops and weapons from Ukraine.
"I think President Putin can see he is at a crossroads," said British Prime Minister David Cameron. "If he continues to destabilize Ukraine there will be further sanctions, further measures.
"There is a cost to sanctions, but there would be a far greater cost in allowing a frozen conflict on the continent of Europe to be created and maintained."
Obama said Russia's isolation was unavoidable.
"We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy," he told a news conference. "But we are also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles.... you don't invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections."
Before leaving the G20 Summit, Putin said a solution to the Ukraine crisis was possible, but did not elaborate.