BUENOS AIRES — President Trump on Thursday canceled his planned meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, citing the unresolved naval standoff in which Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships and upending his plans to cement the relationship between the two leaders.
In a Twitter message posted as he was traveling to Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 meeting, where he had planned to meet with the Russian leader, Mr. Trump said, “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.”
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….
“I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” he added.
….in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!
The decision was an abrupt reversal given that Mr. Trump had just told reporters shortly before leaving for Buenos Aires that he planned to go ahead with the session.
“I probably will be meeting with President Putin,” he said. “I think it is a very good time to have a meeting.” He added that he would be getting a report on Air Force One about the clash with Ukraine “and that will determine what I’m going to do.”
The meeting was scrapped days after Russian forces seized three small Ukrainian naval vessels and more than 20 sailors, including at least three wounded in a shooting by the Russian side, and briefly blocked passage through the Kerch Strait. Ukraine’s government declared temporary martial law.
While Mr. Trump had said earlier in the week that he was not happy about the aggression, he had left any stronger denunciation of Russia’s action to his United Nations ambassador. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle had called on Mr. Trump to take a tougher stance and even cancel the meeting with Mr. Putin.
The two leaders were to get together on Saturday in Buenos Aires on the sideline of the Group of 20, or G-20, summit meeting of large economic powers. It was to be their first meeting since they saw each other in Helsinki and Mr. Trump appeared to equate Mr. Putin’s denial that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections with the firm conclusions of American intelligence agencies that it did.
Mr. Trump had been trying to set up another meeting for months, first suggesting Mr. Putin come to visit the White House and later arranging to sit down together in Paris earlier this month, but neither idea went ahead. Instead, the two leaders settled on Buenos Aires for their next meeting.
The session was already freighted by multiple tension points between the two countries in addition to the lingering issue of the election meddling.
Mr. Trump recently declared that he would withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, citing Russian violations, an issue that was sure to come up. Syria and Iran were other flash points expected to be discussed.
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