United States President Donald Trump has called off his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina. The announcement was made soon after the Ukraine-Russia naval conflict
Russian forces on Sunday seized two Ukranian gunboats and a tug sailing from Odessa to the port of Mariupol, in the Sea of Azov. The entry of the naval vessels was blocked by a Russian cargo ship, restricting them from passing under a Russian bridge in the Kerch Strait. While Russia claims the Ukrainian ships were trying to enter Russian waters illegally, Ukraine asserts Russian actions were completely unjustified given the area is shared between the two countries under a treaty.
After a long stand-off in the Sea of Azov, Russian forces opened fire on the Ukrainian ships, injuring soldiers. The three naval ships and Ukrainian soldiers were captured by Russia and taken to Crimea, a Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014. The federal Russian security force, FSB stated that the soldiers were injured, but not in any fatal danger. Over twenty Ukrainian soldiers are now facing two months of pre-trial detention ordered by Russian courts. The Russian bridge in the Sea of Azov has previously restricted the entry of over a hundred Ukranian ships that were too tall to pass through the structure.
On Monday, the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, urged the NATO to deploy warships in the Sea of Azov to help assure security. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said “The Ukrainian side has asked us to act wisely. There is no military solution to these problems.” She asserted that she would discuss the issue personally with the Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Argentina, on Friday. The Chancellor of Germany further added that the Ukraine-Russia naval crisis was “entirely the doing of the Russian president”, outlining Russia’s violation of the 2003 agreement, which allowed for unrestricted movement in the region.
Meanwhile, the United States President Donald Trump has called off his meeting with Russian counterpart on account of Russian commandeering of Ukrainian warships and soldiers. He tweeted, “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.”, adding “I look forward to a meaningful summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”
The Kremlin said the cancellation by President Trump was rather sudden and it was not made aware of it beforehand. The Russian President defended Russian actions; he said the naval conflict was “a provocation” planned by the Ukrainian authorities ahead of the Ukrainian presidential election.