Australia to canvass on Putin invite to G20: minister

Sydney (AFP) - Australia will consult other G20 members about whether it should host Russian leader Vladimir Putin at a summit in November, a minister said Tuesday, warning opposition to his presence was growing.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister David Johnston "will be canvassing in Wales at the NATO meeting at the end of this week, with other members of the G20".

"It's not a decision we can take unilaterally," Robb told ABC radio about withdrawing the welcome for Putin to the Group of 20 summit in Brisbane.

"I think increasingly people are taking a very concerned view about his presence but we will see what comes out of those discussions."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used tough language against Russia -- particularly since a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 onboard including 38 Australian citizens or residents.

Speaking on commercial radio on Tuesday Abbott said Russia had been playing "nasty games" in Ukraine and again accused it of bullying its smaller neighbour.

"There are large numbers of troops involved -- Ukrainian regulars, Russian regulars, militias on both sides -- there is artillery fire, there are tank movements, there are air strikes. Yes, it's a war," he told radio 2GB.

"Russia has been playing its nasty games in eastern Ukraine for months now. In the last few days they've come out into the open. They are now openly violating the sovereignty of Ukraine.

"It is an invasion -- let's call it for what it is -- it is an invasion of Ukraine and it's absolutely, utterly reprehensible."

The Australian opposition Labor Party has also indicated it would support a move to bar Putin from the Brisbane G20 event.

"I understand that the G20 is an international event, (that) it's not a simple matter of just saying yes or no to Putin," Labor leader Bill Shorten said.

"I don't want to meet Putin. I've got no time for what he's done."