BRISBANE, Australia: Russian President Vladimir Putin jetted out of Australia on Sunday after a testy Group of 20 summit where he faced concerted Western fire over the Ukraine crisis, saying he left slightly early because he needed to get some sleep.
The Russian strongman, a judo black belt who prides himself on his stamina, left before the final communique from the weekend talks was issued, but attended the annual forum’s wrap-up lunch and praised the “constructive” discussions.
Speaking at a news conference just before flying out of Brisbane, he thanked Tony Abbott for hosting the event, despite the Australian prime minister threatening to confront him over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July.
Putin added in comments reported by the RIA Novosti news agency that the decision to leave Brisbane early had nothing to do with tensions over Ukraine.
Instead, he wanted to catch up on some sleep ahead of a full day’s work back home on Monday.
“We need nine hours to fly from here to Vladivostok and another nine hours from Vladivostok to Moscow,” he said.
“Then we need to get home and return to work on Monday. There’s a need to sleep at least four to five hours,” he added.
Putin broke protocol by delivering remarks to the media before the host leader’s closing news conference, and then flew out shortly before the summit formally closed.
The Russian strongman said “some of our views do not coincide, but the discussions were complete, constructive and very helpful.”
But Western pressure redoubled earlier on Sunday with a joint declaration from the United States, Australia and Japan.
The trio’s leaders said in Brisbane that they were united in “opposing Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilize eastern Ukraine, and bringing to justice those responsible for the downing of Flight MH17.”