The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump will discuss an array of issues, including nuclear arms control, at their meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Although Trump had previously floated canceling the meeting with Putin, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters he did not make the final decision until boarding the plane for Argentina and speaking with national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The US president added, however, that he looked forward to a meaningful summit as soon as the Kerch strait situation is resolved. Putin said they entered territorial waters illegally to provoke a response.
Both Ukraine and Russian Federation have offered conflicting accounts of what happened but Kiev has previously accused Moscow of blockading the Sea of Azov, which is shared by the two countries.
Limited martial law in Ukraine is in place for 30 days, and Russian Federation said Wednesday it was strengthening air defense and early warning radar systems on the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine four years ago.
"It is a provocation initiated by the current authorities, and I think by the [Ukrainian] president, in light of the upcoming elections to be held next year", Putin told an audience at an investment forum in Moscow, CNBC reported. Ukraine on Monday imposed martial law in parts of the country and accused Russian Federation of planning a full-scale invasion of the country.
The cancellation is a major blow to Putin, who has sought to show he's not isolated from the worldwide community despite Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The Kremlin also made a decision to stop all commercial shipping through the Kerch Strait that connects the Azov and Black seas.
Reuters Kevin Lamarque
The United States and its allies later condemned the move at the United Nations.
But Russia, for the most part, has shrugged off Western pressure.
The Nord Stream 2 project is a potentially serious problem for Ukraine which now earns large transit fees from piping Russian gas to Europe and stands to lose out.
Speaking with German newspaper Bild, Mr Poroshenko called on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for naval support to counter Russia's "aggressive policy". "That also means stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project".
There have been some calls among European Union members for tougher sanctions against Russian Federation following the Kerch Strait incident.
But Germany's economy minister, Peter Altmaier, dismissed the idea that his country's commitment to the pipeline undermined efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. If Trump had gone ahead with the meeting, he would've been accused of "appeasing Russian aggression" just like after Helsinki, Clark said.
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