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Putin makes early exit from chilly G20 to dodge critics: Russian media

President Vladimir Putin’s icy reception at the G20 summit in Brisbane accentuated the gulf between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Russian media said Monday, saying he left early to dodge critics.

By departing ahead of time, Putin “avoided confrontation with his critics, which prevented them from using the G20 to increase Russia’s isolation,” Kommersant said, adding that Russia “managed to avoid the main thing: major scandals and continuing dialogue with its most implacable opponents.”

“By leaving early, the Russian president avoided the need to react to the harsh statements of Western leaders at the end of the meeting,” wrote the Vedomosti business daily, saying Putin was given a “demonstratively cold reception.”

The pro-Kremlin Izvestia daily praised Putin for his early exit, saying in a comment piece on its front page that he president “behaved with rare sang-froid.”

It complained the president was “met badly, put in a terrible hotel, assailed from every side with numerous reproaches about our country’s behaviour in southeastern Ukraine… and finally put right on the edge of the joint photograph.”

Headlines focused on Russia’s growing isolation over Ukraine, with Vedomosti business daily calling Putin “a stranger among strangers” at the summit.

Media highlighted the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comment to Putin as he shook his hand to “get out of Ukraine” and Putin’s reply that this was not possible since there are no Russians there, as cited by his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“The G20 summit in Australia’s Brisbane became a demonstration of the complete lack of a common language needed for constructive dialogue between Russia and the West,” Vedomosti wrote in an editorial.

“The positions of the West and Russia on the Ukraine crisis remain as far apart as before,” Vedomosti wrote.

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