Op-Ed: ‘Ban Putin’ G20 uproar in Australia, Pravda sneers

Posted Oct 13, 2014 by Paul Wallis
The attendance of Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting in Brisbane isn’t popular with many sections of the Australian public. The Australian government isn’t too happy, either.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a briefing session with standing members of the Russian Secur...
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a briefing session with standing members of the Russian Security Council at the Bocharov Ruchei residence outside Sochi on October 11, 2014
Aleksey Nikolskyi, Ria Novosti/Pool/AFP
The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he will “shirt front” Mr Putin regarding the death of 28 Australians in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over the Ukraine earlier this year. (“Shirt front” means “head on collision tackle” in Australian Rules football.)
Rhetoric aside, the other issue for Australia is the fact that other G20 nations wanted Mr Putin to attend, and “Australia doesn’t have a choice.” That’s not quite the case. If Australia were to refuse Mr Putin entrance, for whatever reason, exactly what do other nations think they could do about it?
Refusal of entry, however, couldn’t be productive. It would provide Russia with a great excuse for not cooperating in the MH17 investigation and laying of charges.
Pravda, sometimes called the mouthpiece of the Kremlin managed to provide significant offense in its commentary on the controversy of Putin’s attendance, including remarks that Mr Putin should wash his hands after “shaking the grubby paw” of Mr Abbott.
Infantile and sycophantic commentary aside, the Russian government hasn’t been slow to find any excuse to create more controversy. Mere confrontation is not in Australia’s interest. Twenty-eight Australians were murdered by a few morons with SAM missiles and a stunning lack of target recognition skills. Exactly if or why the Russian Federation wishes to excuse this repulsive, criminal and stupid act is debatable, but it’s not relevant to Australia.
Australia could, in fact, allow Mr Putin the extreme embarrassment of arrival and not being allowed in to the country, and to hell with what the world thinks about it. But that would be lowering ourselves to the level of Pravda. We need to talk to Russia about managing the MH17 issue. We need closure on the loss of so many people, including children.
It’s not immediately apparent why child murder would be considered a policy of the Russian government. It’s less apparent why Putin, who’s not exactly diplomatically or politically incompetent, would be prone to tolerating, let alone cooperating, with a truly grim military stuff-up with no redeeming features.
Mr Putin could clarify a lot of issues, not least of which is exactly what Russia will do about a mass murder. We need to hear it from him, not bureaucrats. He should be allowed to make his statements, whether we like what he has to say or not.