Tail wags the dog
Just ahead of this weekend’s G-20 summit, President Trump made a last-minute decision to cancel his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump said it was “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine.”
This refers to three Ukrainian boats seized by Russia last weekend in a maritime incident in the Sea of Azov. Russia had already indicated the detained sailors were to be held for a hearing in December, so there was no reason for the US to expect a last minute return of them or the boats.
This appears to have been a very sput-of-the-moment decision for Trump. Just 48 minutes before announcing his cancellation, he told reporters he intended to still meet Putin, and that it was “a good time to have the meeting.”
There was talk of cancellation earlier in the week, though Russia has downplayed the significance of such a move. Indeed, Russia’s Foreign Minister suggested the US was encouraging bad behavior from Ukraine by taking such steps.