'BACK OFF': Anthony Albanese takes aim at Vladimir Putin amid Russian retreat

Ahead of a major meeting between global leaders, Australia's prime minister has taken aim at Russian president Vladimir Putin, labelling his invasion a "miscalculation" and saying he should "back off".

Next week, Anthony Albanese will join leaders from the world's top economies at the G20 summit in Bali. While Putin won't be attending in person, the PM had some choice words for him on Friday.

"The international community should continue to call upon Vladimir Putin to back off," the Australian PM said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured)
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Source: Reuters

"If Russia were to withdraw, we would see not just an improvement in the global economy ... It should be clear to Putin, [his invasion] has led to the isolation of Russia by countries who respect the rule of law ... It's caused considerable damage to the Russian economy," he told the ABC.

"But the most basic fact is that's it's causing a loss of life, trauma and distress."

Pointing to the fact Russian men have reportedly fled the country to avoid being thrown into the military campaign, Mr Albanese lambasted the Kremlin's bungled invasion which was launched in February.

"This has not gone the way Russia thought it would. It was a massive miscalculation. But the credit for that goes to the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people who have stood up against a much more powerful foe and defended their sovereignty."

Mr Albanese's stern rhetoric comes as Russian forces retreat from the critical region around Kherson city in southern Ukraine, in what's been described as a "humiliating defeat" for Putin.

Albanese expected to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping

Australia has been put in the freezer by the Chinese government for the past few years, but that might be about to officially change.

The Australian Government appears confident of locking in a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit with the Chinese president Xi Jinping, with Mr Albanese saying he would use it to press Xi to scrap $20 billion of economic sanctions he has placed on Australian products in recent years.

"We have some $20 billion of economic sanctions against Australia," Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping pictured
It would be the first high level meeting since 2016. Source: Getty

"That is not in Australia's interests in terms of our jobs and the economy but it's also not in China's interests.

"So I'm very hopeful we'll continue to put our case that these sanctions are not justified, that they need to be removed, but we will enter any discussions that take place without any pre-conditions."

Mr Albanese said he would "stand up for Australian values" while seeking greater cooperation with China.

There has been no formal bilateral meeting between an Australian prime minister and Chinese president since 2016. However the truculent Chinese Communist Party has shown signs of softening towards the new Labor government. Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with her Chinese counterpart, hailing it as "a first step" in repairing the bilateral relationship.

As well as the G20 summit in Bali, the prime minister is attending two ASEAN-related meetings in Cambodia and the APEC summit in Thailand.

with AAP

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