Russia accuses Trump of canceling Putin meeting over 'domestic political situation'

Russian officials on Friday cast doubt on President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE's official reason for canceling a planned bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the "U.S. domestic political situation” was the reason for Trump's decision to not meet with Putin.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, said there was reason to doubt the Trump administration's given explanation of rising tensions between Russian and Ukrainian forces along the border of Crimea for the cancellation, according to CNN.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Was the provocation organized by Kiev in this region the real reason for cancellation?” Zakharova said in a press conference first reported by Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “Publicly, we heard just such an explanation, we took note of it. Is this a reality?"

"I think that you still need to look for answers in the U.S. domestic political situation," she added.

News of his plans to cancel the summit came amid reports that Michael Cohen, the president's longtime attorney, had pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in an effort to minimize Trump's connections to Russia in the hopes of deterring investigations into the Trump campaign.

Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter that he hoped for a "meaningful" summit with his Russian counterpart once Russia took steps to return Ukrainian vessels and sailors recently seized by Russian naval forces along disputed naval territory.

“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 en route to the Group of 20 (G-20) large economies summit in Argentina.

The two leaders could schedule “a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” Trump added.

 

Just hours earlier, Trump had called this week's G-20 summit a "very good time" to meet with the Russian leader, and suggested to reporters that the meeting would go on as planned.

“I probably will be meeting with President Putin. We haven't terminated that meeting. I was thinking about it, but we haven't. They'd like to have it,” the president said earlier Thursday before the abrupt cancellation.