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Kremlin Surprised by Abrupt Cancellation of Trump–Putin Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a ceremony to mark the completion of the TurkStream gas pipeline, in Istanbul, Turkey, November 19, 2018 (Murad Sezer/Reuters )

The Kremlin was caught off guard by President Trump’s sudden cancellation of a planned meeting between with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Russian state news agencies said Thursday.

Trump had planned to sit down with Putin at the G-20 summit in Argentina, but canceled the meeting in a tweet Thursday, citing Russia’s Sunday capture of three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors.

“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 wrote.

On Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian forces clashed off the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Russian border guards opened fire on three Ukrainian ships and captured their crews as they sailed in the Sea of Azov, which is shared by the two nations. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has asked for NATO ships to be sent to the region to “provide security.”

“Foreign military ships entered Russia’s territorial waters without responding to any requests made by our border guards. Therefore, all actions were taken in strict compliance with the law,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the incident.

The cancellation means the Russian president will have “a couple of more hours” for “useful meetings” with other leaders, Peskov was quoted as saying Thursday.

Putin and his delegation are already on their way to Argentina, Russian news services said.

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