Politics & Government

Western leaders criticize Putin at G20 summit

Some world leaders criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend for his aggressive role in Ukraine and threatened to lodge more economic sanctions against his nation.

“I guess I'll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Putin, according to published reports.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spent two hours meeting with Putin behind closed doors, said at a news conference that the European Union was considering more sanctions. “The present situation is not satisfying,” she told reporters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said before the G-20 summit that “a very different relationship” would develop between Europe and Russia if “we continue to see Russian troops” inside Ukraine, according to the BBC.

Russia has denied accusations that it was behind a recent escalation of military activity in Ukraine, where fighting has claimed more than 4,000 people.

President Barack Obama mentioned Russia in his speech Saturday at the University of Queensland, though his language on the issue has not changed in recent months.

“We're leading...in opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine -- which is a threat to the world, as we saw in the appalling shoot-down of MH17, a tragedy that took so many innocent lives, among them your fellow citizens,” Obama said. “As your ally and friend, America shares the grief of these Australian families, and we share the determination of your nation for justice and accountability.”

Much was made of the low-level delegation Australia dispatched to greet Putin when he arrived in the country. But in events visible to the media, Putin did not appeared to be bothered by any criticism, smiling and shaking hands with leaders.

Some reported Putin would leave the summit early but the Kremlin denied that.

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the state news agency that any discussions at the G-20 about Ukraine were routine.

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