U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with his Russian counterpart Friday on the margins of the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina, citing ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
“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,” Trump said on Twitter.
Still, Trump held out hope for a future bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin, saying he looks “forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”
The announcement came hours after he told reporters at the White House he would “probably be meeting with President Putin” at the G20, shortly before departing for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the two-day summit will take place beginning Friday
“We haven’t terminated that meeting. I was thinking about it, but they’d like to have it. I think it’s a very good time to have the meeting,” he said before making the surprise declaration while aboard Air Force One.
On Sunday, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with two dozen crew members off the Crimean Peninsula, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict.
Ukraine accuses Russian warships of opening fire on the ships without cause, asserting that crew members were wounded and vessels were seized by Russia unlawfully.
Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.
The international community continues to view the annexation as illegal, and the election Russia uses to justify its seizure as illegitimate.