National security adviser John Bolton said Thursday there are no plans to reschedule a meeting between President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE and Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing Moscow’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crews from the Kerch Strait.
“I don’t see circumstances in the foreseeable future where such a meeting could take place until the ships and crews are released,” Bolton told reporters following remarks at the Heritage Foundation Thursday morning.
In late November, Trump canceled a planned one-on-one with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina after Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews in waters off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula.
Trump cited Russian aggression toward Kiev as the reason for his decision to call the meeting off, though some speculated at the time it was a result of developments in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s Russia investigation.
“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 last month just before the summit.
"I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved."
Bolton said Thursday that Trump “ran into” Putin at a dinner during the summit and that he “made the same point.”
“We simply could not have the previously scheduled encounter as long as Russia still held the Ukrainian ships and crews,” Bolton said. “It’s something that the president feels strongly about.”
U.S. officials and others have accused Russia of violating international law by capturing the Ukrainian naval vessels last month. Russia justified the seizure by saying the vessels were illegally sailing through its waters.
The events have escalated tensions between Moscow and Kiev, which have run high since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The U.S. and Europe Union do not recognize the annexation as legitimate and have imposed sanctions on Russia as a result.
The encounter would have been the second face-to-face meeting between Trump and Putin since their controversial bilateral summit in Helsinki over the summer.
Trump attracted considerable scrutiny then for casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Trump later walked back the remark, saying he misspoke.