President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he is canceling a previously scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing recent naval clashes between Russian and Ukrainian military ships.
“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 on Twitter.
The two leaders were scheduled to meet Saturday during the G-20 summit in Argentina. It was initially reported Thursday that formal meetings with Turkey and South Korea would also be scrapped for informal ones. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said those meetings would go on as planned.
Over the weekend, the Russian coast guard attacked and seized three Ukrainian military ships and their crews, prompting Ukraine’s government to declare martial law. The hostilities came four years after Russia annexed of Crimea.
Trump said Monday that he didn’t condone the attacks.
“We do not like what’s happening, either way, we don’t like what’s happening and hopefully it will get straightened out,” he told reporters.
Trump said he looks forward to meeting with Putin “as soon as this situation is resolved.”
Trump’s cancellation reportedly came as a surprise to the Kremlin, which said it learned about the decision from Trump’s tweet.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told Russian news agencies that the Russian delegation is already on its way to the summit but that Trump’s cancellation just means Putin will have “a couple more hours” with other leaders, The Associated Press reported.
Trump’s announcement came the same day that his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his contacts with Russia for a Trump Tower project in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.
This story has been updated with Sanders’ comment that meetings with Turkey and South Korea will go on as initially planned.