'He's An Adult': Putin Reveals What He Told Trump During Brief Talk at G20
14:31 02.12.2018(updated 14:53 02.12.2018)
Trump cancelled his meeting with the Russian president on Thursday after being briefed on the Kerch Strait incident, in which several Ukrainian Navy vessels and their crews were detained for violating Russia's maritime borders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed the content of his brief informal conversation with US President Trump at a cultural dinner in Buenos Aires for G20 summit leaders, an event which was closed off to the press.
"In a nutshell, I answered his questions about this incident in the Black Sea," Putin said, speaking to reporters at his post-summit press conference. "He has his own position, I have my own position; we each stuck to our own views, but in any case I informed him about our perspective on this incident," he added.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Putin and Trump had spoken at the dinner, but provided no further details.
In addition to Trump, Putin spoke about the Kerch incident with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived late at the summit due to aeroplane troubles. "The president gave an exhaustive explanation of the Black Sea border incident, illustrating it clearly. He even drew a map," Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov said, recalling Putin's Saturday breakfast discussion with Merkel.
Trump cancelled his much-anticipated meeting with Putin at the last minute, tweeting the cancellation a little more than an hour after saying that the conversation was still on, and adding that the cancellation was related to the fact that Russia hasn't returned the Ukrainian ships and sailors detained following the Kerch Strait incident.
Putin expressed his disappointment with Trump's decision. "It's a pity we could not have a full-fledged meeting, because I believe it is long overdue. I'm talking about issues of strategic stability in light of the president's announcement that he plans to pull the US out of the INF Treaty," Putin said.
Putin emphasised that he remains ready to meet with Trump "when the US side is ready for this", adding that he didn't believe the US president cancelled the G20 meeting over fears that he faced the prospect of new attacks from his Democratic opponents over allegations of ties to Russia. "I don't think that President Trump is afraid of something. He's a very experienced person, an adult, so this is certainly not true," Putin said.
A day before the summit, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about Trump's suspected business ties in Russia during the 2016 presidential race, fuelling new allegations in the Russiagate saga; the president is accused of having 'colluded' with Russia during his presidential campaign.
Russia detained three Ukrainian Navy vessels and their 24 crew members last Sunday after the ships violated Russia's maritime borders and engaged in dangerous manoeuvres around the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland, which are connected by 19 km bridge which was completed earlier this year.
Speaking about the incident at his Saturday press conference, Putin reiterated his view that the incident was a "planned provocation," adding that this has been made evident by the captured documents and testimony of the detained sailors, which showed that the ships had planned to slip through the Kerch Strait undetected. Putin also emphasised that the incident, and the resulting introduction of martial law in ten of Ukraine's constituent regions, was related to President Petro Poroshenko's extremely low approval ratings ahead of presidential elections next spring.
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