Kremlin says Putin and Trump will have impromptu meeting at G-20: Media

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for the Group of 20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires on Nov 30, 2018.
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for the Group of 20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires on Nov 30, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will have a brief impromptu meeting with US President Donald Trump in Argentina just as he will with other leaders at the G-20 summit, RIA news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Friday (Nov 30).

Trump tweeted on Thursday that he had cancelled a planned meeting with Putin in Argentina on Saturday because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine spiked on Nov 25 when Russian forces opened fire on and seized three Ukranian navy vessels, detaining the 24 crew members.

It was the first open military confrontation between the rivals since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and pro-Russian separatists in the east entered into conflict with Ukrainian forces, a war that has since killed around 10,000 people.

Peskov said Putin and Trump may meet “on their feet” like the other leaders at the G-20 summit.

Peskov also said that Putin had not yet found another meeting to fill the time freed up by Trump’s change of plans. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Buenos Aires that it is US domestic politics that has put pressure on Trump, preventing him from improving relations with Russia.

“We’ll be waiting for another opportunity” for the leaders to meet, he said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying: "Is the provocation started by Kiev in this area (Azov Sea) a real reason for the cancellation? We heard that as an official version and we accepted that. Is it a real one? I believe we should look for answers in the US domestic political situation."

Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki earlier this year drew criticism after Trump appeared to cast doubt on US intelligence findings of Russian meddling in the campaign and said Putin had been extremely strong in his denials.

A second guilty plea on Thursday by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, has, however, raised new questions about Trump’s dealings with Russia while he was also establishing Republican foreign policy during his run for the presidency.

Trump has repeatedly said he had no ties to Russia. The US Special Counsel’s Office is investigating Moscow for alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Trump lashed out at Cohen after the plea deal was announced, calling him “a weak person” and a liar.

As he departed for Buenos Aires, Trump acknowledged his business dealings with Russia, telling reporters on Thursday: “It doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign.”

On Twitter on Friday, he said that during his campaign he continued to run “my business-very legal & very cool”.