The possibility of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shirt-fronting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Brisbane next month over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 in Ukrainian sovereign territory with the loss of all on board - including 38 Australians - has receded following Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s 25 minute meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Asian Europe Summit held in Milan this week.
Abbott had vowed:
I'm going to shirtfront Mr Putin. I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered. There'll be a lot of tough conversations with Russia and I suspect the conversation I have with Mr Putin will be the toughest conversation of all.
“Shirtfront” is an Australian slang term used in Australian Rules football to describe;
a head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground
ABC News reported on Bishop’s meeting with Putin:
The Foreign Minister said she received assurances from Mr Putin that he would help facilitate access to the crash site for international investigators but could not confirm a timeframe in which the Russian president would act.
I had a very detailed discussion with him. I expressed our concerns about the Malaysia Airlines crash. He said that he would seek to respond to my request by asking the separatists to provide that access.
I announced to the gathered world leaders that I'd had a conversation with President Putin and that he had been most cooperative and had responded very constructively to my request that Russia use its influence to ensure that the independent investigators can have access to the crash site of MH17.
Hopefully such access will have occurred well before the G20 leaders meet.
Putin however should not believe he will have a trouble free ride in sunny and welcoming Brisbane.
Australia punches well above its weight and is a member of the American-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) in Iraq – whilst carefully avoiding confronting IS in neighbouring Syria.
Australia - also currently a member of the United Nations Security Council - should be increasingly concerned at the lack of a specific Security Council Resolution authorising the use of force against IS.
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