US President Donald Trump has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin which was due to take place at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Trump had previously cast doubt over whether the meeting would take place, telling the Washington Post on Wednesday that “maybe” he would cancel the tete-a-tete, citing the recent confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military vessels in the Kerch Strait.
Three Ukrainian Navy vessels were apprehended by Russia trying to cross between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea on Sunday. While Kiev said it had informed Russia of the crossing, Moscow said it had not received notification.
Leaving the White House for Argentina on Thursday, Trump told reporters he “probably” would meet with Putin at the summit, but said he would make a decision after receiving a briefing on the plane.
Shortly after, Trump tweeted that “it would be best for all parties concerned” to cancel the meeting with Putin “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine.”
Trump said he looked forward to a “meaningful summit” when the “situation is resolved.”
Responding to Trump’s decision, the Kremlin said it had received no confirmation of the cancellation through official channels. A Kremlin spokesperson said if the meeting is off, however, Putin will have a few free hours for other important meetings.
It’s not the first time uncertainty has surrounded whether a meeting between the two leaders would take place. In fact, it seems to happen frequently.
Just three days before the pair met in Helsinki in July, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged “collusion” between Trump and Russia announced grand jury indictments against 12 Russian military officials for their alleged roles in interfering in US domestic politics. That move prompted White House officials to suggest Mueller was trying to derail the Helsinki meeting.
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There were also conflicting reports about a possible meeting between the two leaders in the days before Armistice Day commemorations in Paris last month. In the end, the two reportedly had a brief conversation behind the scenes and shook hands publicly after French organizers changed the seating arrangements at the last minute to avoid having the pair seated next to each other.