Trump Cancels Meeting With Putin over Ukraine

US President Donald Trump has canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, citing an incident with Ukraine, the latest of attempts to block all talks between Moscow and Washington.

After consulting with his national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump backed out of the scheduled meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.

President Donald Trump on Thursday cancelled his planned formal talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit. Shortly afterward, though, he also cancelled formal meetings with the leaders of Turkey and South Korea, which were downgraded to informal talks.

After news broke that his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s potential real estate deal in Russia in 2016, Trump announced that he’d be nixing his meeting with Putin — apparently taking the Kremlin by surprise.

«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….» – Trump said.

Trump cited the military dispute between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov, though that situation has unfolded over several days. Minutes before announcing the cancellation of his Putin meeting on Twitter, in fact, Trump told reporters outside the White House, «I probably will be meeting with President Putin».

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One while en-route to the to the G-20 summit in Argentina, said Trump made his decision «in the last half hour» after conferring with chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, the latter over the phone.

In addition to downgrading his talks with Erdogan from a formal meeting to an informal pull-aside meeting, the same downgrade would apply to his talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Sanders later objected to describing the meetings as «cancelled».

The Buenos Aires session, which had been scheduled for Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit meeting, was only the second to be canceled between top American and Russian or Soviet leaders since an American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russian territory in 1960. The other time came in 2013 when President Barack Obama called off a trip to Moscow to protest Mr. Putin’s decision to shelter Edward J. Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker.