People join the Melaspas and Mecaru rituals ahead of the G20 meeting in Bali on Wednesday. Reuters
It was the first Russian confirmation that Putin will not travel to the resort island of Bali for the summit, which would have put him in the same room as US President Joe Biden for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Biden has called Putin a "war criminal" and ruled out meeting him in Bali if he went unless the conversation involved the release of Americans held in Russia.
"I can confirm that (foreign minister) Sergei Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation to the G20. President Putin's programme is still being worked out, he could participate virtually," said Yulia Tomskaya, the embassy's chief of protocol.
The decision follows months of speculation about Putin's participation at the November 15-16 summit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting. File photo
The Kremlin is expected to try and shield itself from Western condemnation over the war, in which its forces are suffering setbacks in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Another source with knowledge of Russia's G20 planning confirmed that Putin would be replaced by Lavrov.
The person said it was unclear if the Russian leader would attend virtually as "the issue has not been finalised".
Lavrov walked out of a G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bali in July after officials roundly condemned Russia over Ukraine.
Host Indonesia pursues a neutral foreign policy and has rebuffed Western calls to disinvite Russia from the summit.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend virtually.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had invited Putin despite the invasion, prompting a flurry of Western criticism. In August, he said Putin had accepted that invitation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend virtually. He had threatened to boycott the summit if Putin attended.
Ukraine is not a G20 member.
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