President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would make a final decision on whether to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina after he receives a full report on the Kerch Strait incident.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he decided to cancel a scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
‘Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved,’ Trump said in a Twitter message.
Speaking about the decision, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated that Trump took it after talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House Chief of Staff Kelly on the flight to the Group of 20 summit and after he called National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Commenting on the move, Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow hadn’t received any information about the change of schedule. He added, however, that if it were cancelled, Putin would have a few more hours to talk to other world leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
Trump’s announcement comes less than an hour after he claimed it was a ‘very good time’ to meet with Putin, but that he would make a decision after receiving a full report on the naval clash in the Black Sea.
‘I am getting a full report on the plane as to what happened [in Kerch Strait] with respect to that, and that will determine what I am going to be doing [regarding the meeting with Putin]’, Trump told reporters at the White House as he prepared to depart for Buenos Aires.
The Kerch Strait incident took place on Sunday when three Ukrainian naval vessels, heading from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea, tried to pass through the strait without obtaining permission from Russia and thus illegally crossing the country’s sea border. The vessels were seized by the Russian side and a total of 24 Ukrainian servicemen were detained.
Putin said that the incident was a provocation on Kiev’s part and was related to the low approval rating of Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko ahead of the nearing presidential election. Putin noted that two Ukrainian Security Service officers were among the crew and were effectively in charge of the operation.
Following the incident, the Ukrainian authorities on Monday introduced 30 day-long martial law in certain regions of the country, which provides for temporary restrictions of constitutional rights and liberties, including the right to participate in elections.