Australia PM vows to confront Russian President Putin at G-20 over MH17 crash

Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott speaks at the 69th United Nations General Assembly on Sept 25, 2014 in New York City. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday vowed to "shirtfront", or confront, Russian President Vladimir Putin at
Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott speaks at the 69th United Nations General Assembly on Sept 25, 2014 in New York City. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday vowed to "shirtfront", or confront, Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit next month over the loss of Australian lives in the MH17 crash over Ukraine. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday vowed to "shirtfront", or confront, Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit next month over the loss of Australian lives in the MH17 crash over Ukraine.

Australia is hosting the summit in Brisbane, and there had been question marks over whether Mr Putin would take part. But Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed on Sunday that the Russian leader would attend, despite concerns about Russia's actions in Ukraine in recent months.

Mr Abbott has used tough language against Russia since a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 onboard - including 38 Australian citizens or residents. He said Monday he would be confronting Mr Putin over the tragedy.

"I'm going to shirtfront Mr Putin - you bet I am," Mr Abbott told reporters, referring to an Australian sporting term in which a player charges someone. "I'm going to be saying to Mr. Putin - Australians were murdered and they were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian supplied equipment. We are very unhappy about this.

"We accept that you didn't want this to happen," he added.

"But we now demand that you fully cooperate with the criminal investigation, and if the criminal investigation identifies suspects that you have some influence over, they've got to be produced and justice has got to be done."

Kiev and the West have accused Moscow-backed separatists of shooting down the plane with a surface-to-air BUK missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charge and has pointed the finger back at Kiev.

Australia had initially been reluctant for Mr Putin to attend the G-20, but member nations indicated that he should, in order to address the geo-political tensions.

"While Australia is the president of the G-20 this year, we can't make unilateral decisions. It has to be by consensus and the G-20 consensus is that Russia should come," said Mr Abbott.

"Now, I think that there'll be a lot of tough conversations with Russia and I suspect that the conversation that I have with Mr Putin will be the toughest conversation of all.

"But nevertheless, it's not up to us to determine who is and who is not a member of the G-20. I want the G-20 to continue. I want Australia to be a constructive and strong member of the G-20. I don't want to be a G020 wrecker."

The G-20 leaders' summit takes place from Nov 15 to Nov 16.