Trump threatens to cancel meeting with Putin, citing Ukraine-Russia confrontation

John Bolton

John Bolton

U.S. President Donald Trump told media on Tuesday that he would consider cancelling his scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, citing the ongoing Ukraine-Russia confrontation near the Kerch Strait that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

 

So far, there is no comment from the Russian side on Trump’s remarks, but Moscow has said its activities in the region are legitimate.

 

In an interview with The Washington Post at the White House, Trump said he was awaiting a “full report” from his national security team Tuesday evening about Russia’s alleged capture of three Ukrainian naval ships and their crews in the Black Sea on Sunday.

 

“That will be very determinative,” Trump was quoted as saying.

 

“Maybe I won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting. … I don’t like that aggression. I don’t want that aggression at all.”

 

The remarks came after Trump’s restraint statement on Monday that he hopes the current confrontation between Ukraine and Russia could get “straightened out.”

 

Before the interview was published, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said earlier on Tuesday at a White House press briefing that Trump, during his stay in Argentina, will meet many foreign leaders, including Putin.

 

The two presidents will discuss “all of the issues that we have on security issues, on arms control issues, on regional issues including the Middle East,” he said.

 

“I think it’ll be a full agenda. I think it’ll be a continuation of their discussion in Helsinki.”

 

Earlier on Tuesday, NATO said in a statement on its website that NATO allies “call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and allow freedom of navigation.”

 

“There is no justification for Russia’s use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel,” said the statement.

 

“We call on Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized, without delay.”

 

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department urged European nations to take more substantial actions to help Ukraine against Russia.

 

Saying the confrontation between Moscow and Kiev “is a dangerous escalation,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said although many European nations have imposed sanctions on Russia for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine, “not all of those sanctions … have been fully enforced.” -Xinhua

 

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