Sunday, September 20, 2020 | ePaper

Putin briefs Trump over Ukraine as EU leaders up pressure

  • Print


US President Donald Trump with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

AFP, Buenos Aires :
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he briefed his US counterpart Donald Trump on the Ukraine crisis as he came under pressure over Moscow's robust foreign policy at the G20 summit in Argentina.
Putin said he explained Moscow's position to Trump when the leaders met briefly at a summit dinner Friday.
"We spoke standing up. I replied to his questions about the incident in the Black Sea," Putin told reporters at the end of the summit.
Putin strode into the summit under a cloud, having drawn outrage from Europe over last week's incident in which his navy detained three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors - causing Trump to abruptly cancel their scheduled meeting.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko kept up the pressure from Kiev, saying Putin had refused to take his calls since the crisis started.
He said that when the incident happened, he instructed his office to set up a call with the Kremlin leader to say "we are ready for this negotiation to de-escalate… and unfortunately, until now, Putin did not answer my request for a direct phone conversation."
Poroshenko told France 24 in an interview that Ukraine would try to resolve the standoff diplomatically but insisted Russian forces withdraw from Crimea, and return its ships and sailors "captured illegally in the neutral waters of the Black Sea."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel took Putin to task at length over the naval spat, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron urged him to "de-escalate" the crisis.
Merkel used breakfast with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit to voice her "concern" over the tensions in the Kerch Strait off Russian-annexed Crimea.
"Of course, we talked about the situation in the Sea of Azov, because it is important to avoid any aggravation," Merkel said in Buenos Aires.
Macron raised his concerns with the Russian leader at one of his first bilateral meetings, pressing him "to make the necessary gestures so that there is a de-escalation," said a French official.
Both European countries are members of the "Normandy Four" group with Moscow and Kiev, set up to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine involving Russian-backed rebels.
Merkel said she had also discussed Syria with Putin, "especially … the Idlib region," where a fragile ceasefire has been negotiated between rebels and Syrian army forces backed by Moscow.
Her main focus, however, was on the situation in Ukraine. "I want to make it quite clear, though, that free shipping to the Sea of Azov must be guaranteed to the Ukrainian coasts and cities. There is a basic contractual agreement from 2003 on this. Russia must comply with this basis," she said.
Away from the summit, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Moscow had shown "brazen contempt" for a deal "that allowed both Russian and Ukrainian ships free passage." Putin - who has praised his navy for defending Russian territory - "provided exhaustive explanations on this incident in the Black Sea, explaining everything in detail, in exactly the same manner as yesterday during his meeting with the French president," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax.
According to a French aide, Friday's version entailed Putin drawing a map for Macron of the Kerch Strait, to buttress his position that the seized Ukrainian ships had intruded into Russian waters - a claim denied by Kiev.
As for Macron, "the main message that he passed on is really that of a de-escalation," the aide said.
Far from offering comforting words, Putin said at a post-summit press conference he saw no end in sight to the four-year conflict in eastern Ukraine "as long as the current Ukrainian authorities remain in power." "The current Ukrainian authorities have no interest in resolving the conflict, especially by peaceful means," he said.
The November 25 incident in the contested Kerch Strait - which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov - was the first open military confrontation between Kiev and Moscow since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Merkel said Germany had suggested a meeting of the Normandy group to discuss the crisis.

More News For this Category

The rain and flooding exceeded records set in 1946 and 1988, forcing the government to declare a three-month state of emergency.

The rain and flooding exceeded records set in 1946 and 1988, forcing the government to declare a three-month state of emergency.

.

Families struggle as heavy rain, more floods expected in Sudan

Al Jazeera News :Thousands of people continue to live under the threat of incoming heavy rain and further flooding in parts of Sudan, months after floods ravaged nearly all

India arrests 9 al Qaeda militants planning 'terrorist attacks'

Reuters :India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Saturday it has arrested nine al Qaeda militants who were planning attacks in several locations including the capital New Delhi."The group

Bolivian interim President Anez withdraws from election race

Bolivian interim President Anez withdraws from election race

Al Jazeera News :Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez has said she will not run in the country's election next month, in an attempt to unify votes against the MAS

Coronavirus surge in Canada checks Trudeau's green ambitions

Coronavirus surge in Canada checks Trudeau's green ambitions

Reuters, Ottawa :A recent surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to scale back his plan to outline an ambitious green economic recovery package next

Afghan mothers' names to be included on children's ID cards

BBC Online :Afghan mothers will have their names printed on their children's national identity cards, after a campaign to challenge taboos around women's names.President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday signed

Tropical Storm Noul pounds Vietnam; one dead, dozens injured

Tropical Storm Noul pounds Vietnam; one dead, dozens injured

Al Jazeera News :At least one person has died and dozens have been injured as Tropical Storm Noul pounded Vietnam, unleashing heavy rains and high winds on the country's

In bumpy U.N. dealings, Trump found backing on North Korea, isolation on Iran

Reuters, United Nations :Though famously skeptical of the United Nations, U.S. President Donald Trump harnessed its collective power to impose crushing sanctions on North Korea in a bid to

China conducts more exercises near Taiwan as US official visits

China conducts more exercises near Taiwan as US official visits

Al Jazeera News :Taiwan has said it had to scramble fighter jets to track approaching Chinese aircraft that also crossed the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, in an

Coronavirus: Israel marks Jewish New Year with second lockdown

Coronavirus: Israel marks Jewish New Year with second lockdown

BBC Online :Israel is entering a second nationwide lockdown to curb surging coronavirus cases, just as people begin to mark the start of Jewish New Year.Rosh Hashanah is traditionally