The Slatest

Trump-Putin G-20 Meeting May or May Not Happen May or May Not Be Scheduled

Vladimir Putin at the G20 Leaders' Summit photo in Buenos Aires
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin gestures during the G20 Leaders’ Summit family photo on November 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires.

Before arriving in Buenos Aires for the G-20 summit, President Trump cancelled a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin, citing recent maritime hostilities in Urkaine.

The decision was apparently made during the trip to Argentina after Trump “[reviewed] the report on Russia’s actions against Ukraine. Mr. Trump conferred with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, who were on the plane, and by telephone with John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, who was in Brazil,” the New York Times reported.

Almost immediately after Trump announced the cancellation, many speculated that the real reason was that his former personal attorney Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his efforts to build a Trump-branded tower in Moscow, which had extended into June 2016 and included contacts with at least one Russian government official. Similarly , a few days before Trump’s now-infamous Helsinki summit with Putin in July, special counsel Robert Mueller had indicted several Russian military intelligence officers

On Friday, the Russian government itself got in on the trolling, with a government spokesperson telling Russian media: “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 U.S. domestic political situation.”

The Russian also said that despite the scheduled meeting being cancelled, there would be a short, spontaneous one Friday anyway. But a White House official told reporters on the trip that there was “no scheduled pull aside,” thus denying the Russian claim that there would be a scheduled impromptu meeting between the heads of two nuclear-armed powers, one of whom almost certainly ordered a hacking and disinformation campaign to help get the other elected.

Anyway, Putin got to have a much less complicated interaction with one of his other international buddies. Here he is greeting Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman.