US President Donald Trump said he might not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina over Russian “aggression” toward Ukrainian ships trying to force the Kerch Strait.
“Maybe I won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting,” Trump told the Washington Post in an interview on Tuesday. “I don’t like that aggression. I don’t want that aggression at all.”
Trump said he was waiting for a “full report” from his national security advisers about Sunday’s incident before making the final decision.
On Sunday, three Ukrainian Navy vessels tried to force the passage of the Kerch Strait, between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, before they were intercepted and captured by the Russian coast guard. The vessels and 24 of their crew members have been detained for questioning.
Kiev has declared a state of emergency over the incident, claiming a “Russian invasion” was impending. Moscow has denied any such intentions and condemned Ukraine for violating Russian territorial waters, a defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
A meeting with Putin is currently on Trump’s schedule for the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which runs from November 30 to December 1. Speaking with reporters earlier in the day, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton did not mention any possibility of canceling the Putin meeting, only that Trump may not meet with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman due to his “pretty packed” schedule.
Bolton also said the White House’s position is that articulated by US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who called the incident “Russian aggression” and an “arrogant act that the international community must condemn” at the UN Security Council meeting on Monday.
Crimea overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia in March 2014, following a US-backed coup against the government in Kiev. Washington has refused to recognize this, insisting that Crimea is Ukrainian territory illegally occupied by Russia.
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