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A H Khan

Published:
2018-11-28 11:38:33 BdST

Trump threatens to cancel meeting with Putin over Ukraine


U.S. President Donald Trump told media on Tuesday that he would consider canceling his scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, citing the ongoing Ukraine-Russia confrontation near the Kerch Strait that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

So far, there is no comment from the Russian side on Trump’s remarks, but
Moscow has said its activities in the region is legitimate.

TRUMP THREATENS TO CANCEL MEETING

In an interview with The Washington Post at the White House, Trump said he
was awaiting a “full report” from his national security team Tuesday evening
about Russia’s alleged capture of three Ukrainian naval ships and their crews
in the Black Sea on Sunday.

“That will be very determinative,” Trump was quoted as saying. “Maybe I
won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting. … I don’t like
that aggression. I don’t want that aggression at all.”

The remarks came after Trump’s restraint statement on Monday that he hopes
the current confrontation between Ukraine and Russia could get “straightened
out.”

Before the interview was published, U.S. National Security Adviser John
Bolton said earlier on Tuesday at a White House press briefing that Trump,
during his stay in Argentina, will meet many foreign leaders, including
Putin.

The two presidents will discuss “all of the issues that we have on security
issues, on arms control issues, on regional issues including the Middle
East,” he said. “I think it’ll be a full agenda. I think it’ll be a
continuation of their discussion in Helsinki.”

U.S. URGES EUROPE TO DO MORE

Earlier on Tuesday, NATO said in a statement on its website that NATO
allies “call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and
allow freedom of navigation.”

“There is no justification for Russia’s use of military force against
Ukrainian ships and naval personnel,” said the statement. “We call on Russia
to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized, without delay.”

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department urged European nations to take
more substantial actions to help Ukraine against Russia.

Saying the confrontation between Moscow and Kiev “is a dangerous
escalation,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said although many
European nations have imposed sanctions on Russia for its actions in Crimea
and Ukraine, “not all of those sanctions … have been fully enforced.”

Earlier this year, Russia inaugurated a bridge over the Kerch Strait, which
links the Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland, and started carrying out
inspections of commercial ships sailing through the Sea of Azov and the Kerch
Strait.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, on
Nov. 19 said Russia’s activities in the Sea of Azov “are damaging not only
the Ukrainian economy, but also so many vessels that are flying European
Union member states’ flags.”

In response to the accusations, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria
Zakharova said Thursday at a weekly briefing that Russia considers legitimate
its activities in the region.

“Russia strictly observes its agreement with Ukraine on cooperation in the
Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait of Dec. 24, 2003, which fixes the status of
the sea as internal waters of Russia and Ukraine,” said Zakharova.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA TENSIONS ESCALATE

The Ukraine-Russia ties, strained over Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, saw an
abrupt escalation this week.

The Ukrainian Navy said Sunday that Russian forces opened fire and seized
three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait, adding that six Ukrainian
military sailors were wounded, two of them in serious condition, in the
attack.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said the three Ukrainian ships,
namely Berdyansk, Nikopol and Yany Kapu, breached the Russian border and
conducted dangerous maneuvers in spite of orders of accompanying vessels from
the FSB and Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The Ukrainian Navy said it has informed Russia in advance about the passage
of Ukrainian vessels from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov through the Kerch
Strait, calling Russia’s actions an “act of aggression.”

The Ukrainian parliament on Monday supported a bill imposing a martial law
in certain regions for 30 days starting from Wednesday due to the tensions
with Russia in the Sea of Azov.

The law will be imposed not across the whole country, but only in regions
bordering Russia, Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, where Russian
troops are stationed, and regions located on the shores of the Black Sea and
the Sea of Azov, said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was called on Monday
morning over the escalating situation.

Wu Haitao, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations
who chaired the meeting, told the UN Security Council that China has noted
the altercation between Russian and Ukrainian naval ships.

“China hopes and calls for the relevant parties to exercise restraint to
avoid any further escalation of tension and properly resolve the relevant
issues through dialogues and consultations,” said Wu.

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