Australian Prime Minister vows to ‘shirtfront’ Putin at G20 meeting

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he will “shirtfront” Russian president Vladimir Putin when the pair meet at the G20 meeting in Brisbane next month.

Mr Abbott confirmed he would hold a bilateral meeting with Mr Putin to raise concerns over the deaths of Australians in the MH17 disaster.

Twenty-seven Australians and 11 others with permanent residency died when the plane was downed over Ukraine.

Mr Abbott said he intended to very forcefully raise Australia‘s objections.

“Look, I’m going to shirtfront Mr Putin … you bet I am,” he told reporters in Queensland.

“I am going to be saying to Mr Putin [that] Australians were murdered. They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment.”

A shirtfront, an Australian rules football term, is a “head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground,” according to the Macquarie Dictionary.

The Prime Minister’s comments came a day after Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed the Russian leader would attend the summit.

Australia Tony Abbott Russia Vladimir Putin

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin

Mr Hockey said Russia’s finance minister confirmed Mr Putin’s attendance during a “lengthy discussion” in Washington on Saturday.

Both the Federal Government and the Opposition have been highly critical of Russia’s response to the MH17 plane crash, as well as its behaviour towards Ukraine.

“We accept that you didn’t want this to happen, but we now demand that you fully cooperate with the criminal investigation,” Mr Abbott said.

“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.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten expressed frustration over Mr Putin’s plans to visit Australia but said the Federal Government did not have the right to stop the Russian president from entering the country.

Mr Abbott’s latest comments, which were made a day after a Russian newspaper lashed out at his recent criticisms of Russia, were his strongest yet against Mr Putin.

An editorial in the English language version of Pravda suggested Mr Putin “wash his hands carefully and sterilise them after shaking the paw offered to him by Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the forthcoming G20 Summit in Brisbane”.

“It is not about [the] Ebola virus … it is about the disease called insolence and Australia’s colonial chip on its shoulder,” the editorial added.