Trump’s Pullout From G20 Talks With Putin Unlikely to Solve Kerch Incident
The Russian and US leaders were scheduled to meet at the G20 summit last weekend, but Trump cancelled at the last moment following the escalation of tensions in the Kerch Strait. The US president named the release of the Ukrainian servicemen detained by Russia as his condition for meeting with Putin. Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on Sunday that the two presidents may meet in the future, including during the next G20 summit in Japan, but it was important for the two leaders to try and do so earlier.
Trump’s move came a week after three Ukrainian naval vessels tried to pass through the Kerch Strait without obtaining a permission from Russia and thus illegally crossed the country’s sea border. Russian authorities seized the ships and detained a total of 24 Ukrainian servicemen who were on board the vessels at the time. Following the incident, Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko declared martial law in several Ukrainian regions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance to boost Poroshenko’s low approval rating ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.
Need for Dialogue
Trump’s pullout from meeting reflected a “one-sided and premature position” that would do nothing to help resolve the situation in the Kerch Strait, Dr Roland Hartwig, the vice-chairman of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag, told Sputnik.
“To talk to each other is always better than not doing it … I consider President Trump’s decision to be a clear indication that the US will put the blame for the Kerch incident unilaterally on Russia alone. Taking such a one-sided and premature position will certainly not help to resolve the current crisis and may even keep Ukraine away from trying to find a mutually amicable solution with Russia,” the lawmaker said.
Earl Rasmussen, the executive vice president of the Eurasia Center, pointed out that it was not only the Kerch incident but also other issues such as the situation in Syria and the US decision to pull out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that required a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
“It is unfortunate that a decision was made to cancel the talks. These incidents typically call for more dialogue. Additionally, there are many more issues that need to be discussed to include Syria and Nuclear Arms agreements … Will the cancellation have an adverse impact? It is doubtful. Rather it will prolong movement on resolving issues and any type of rapprochement,” Rasmussen said.
Prospects for Bilateral Relations
Charles E. Ziegler, professor at the Department of Political Science of the University of Louisville and the director of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, told Sputnik, however, that the meeting’s cancellation was unlikely to significantly affect bilateral relations as they were already at a low.