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Trump abruptly cancels planned meeting with Putin

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump walks to Air Force One prior to departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, November 29, 2018, as they travel to attend the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump has abruptly canceled his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at this weekend's Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, citing Russia’s maritime clash with Ukraine.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter on Thursday, about an hour after he told reporters the meeting would “probably” go ahead as planned.

He put the blame of cancellation on Russia's refusal to release Ukrainian Navy ships and sailors captured during a maritime confrontation between the two countries on Sunday.

“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 tweeted while flying to the summit.

He added that he hoped to have “a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”

On Thursday morning, Trump told reporters at the White House he believed it is "a very good time to have a meeting" with Putin.

“I probably will be meeting with President Putin. We haven't terminated that meeting. I was thinking about it, but we haven't. They'd like to have it,” the president said.

In an interview with The Washington Post published on Tuesday, Trump said he was awaiting a “full report” from his national security team about Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian naval ships and their crews on Sunday.

Trump was due to meet Putin on the sidelines of the annual G20 summit, which convenes on Friday and Saturday.

The Trump-Putin meeting was supposed to cover security issues, arms control, and issues in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The latest hostilities between Moscow and Kiev unfolded on Sunday when Russia’s naval forces intercepted and seized three Ukrainian vessels after they illegally entered Russian waters off the coast of Crimea in the Sea of Azov.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in 2014, prompting the West to impose sanctions against Moscow.

The Kremlin has said the seizure of the Ukrainian ships was lawful because they were trespassing.

Ukraine’s lawmakers later adopted a martial law measure in the border regions of the country for 30 days during a Monday vote in the parliament.

The martial law gives Ukrainian officials the power to mobilize citizens with military experience, control the media, and impose restrictions on public rallies.

Some countries have claimed Russia is seeking to assert its dominion over the Sea of Azov.

Some European politicians have renewed calls for imposing further sanctions on Russia over the incident.

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