The Observer view on negotiating with Vladimir Putin: it’s too soon | Observer editorial

Vladimir Putin’s decision to stay away from this week’s G20 summit of world leaders in Bali is telling. While Indonesia insisted that Russia’s president was welcome, his presence would have been an embarrassment. He is an international pariah – and he knows it. Even China appears to be losing patience.

The reason for this is, of course, Ukraine, where Putin’s calamitous “special military operation” diminishes him and his country by the day. Last week’s liberation by Ukrainian forces of Kherson, following victories around Kyiv and in Kharkiv region, was the most significant Russian reverse since the invasion began in February. Putin annexed the Kherson oblast in September after a phoney referendum and declared it sovereign territory. The provincial capital, the only one in Kremlin hands, would “never” be surrendered, he vowed.

Now, his troops, fearing encirclement, have cut and run, scuttling off to the relative safety of the east bank of the Dnipro River….

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