The long-awaited talks between Putin and his US counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit were cancelled by Donald Trump over Russia's seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels that illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. When commenting on the incident, Putin called it a provocation ahead of the Ukrainian presidential election.
During the press conference Putin said that he had an on-the-go meeting with Trump and answered his questions related to Kerch Strait incident briefly. He noted that Trump has own position on the incident — different from Russian one and added that he informed the US leader about Russian point of view.
“It’s a pity we could not have a full-fledged meeting because I believe it is long overdue. I’m talking about issues of strategic stability in the light of the president’s announcement that he plans to pull the US from the INF treaty,” Putin told reporters.
Vladimir Putin also said that his US counterpart was unlikely to have cancelled their meeting, previously scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, over any fears, calling Trump an experienced person.
"I don't think that president Trump has any fears, he is a very experienced person, an adult, so this is certainly not true," Putin said at a press conference held after the G20 summit, when asked about possible reasons behind the cancellation of the meeting.
"I hope that this meeting will be held eventually, when the US side is ready for it," Putin added.
London's Terrorism Comments
Russian President also commented on the recent comments by the United Kingdom's government, saying that London compares Russia to a terrorist organisation to "score points" among UK voters.
“I think that when such comparisons are made and Russia is mixed up with terrorists, this behavior should rest on the conscience of those who make them… As for terrorism, Russia is probably the main contributor to the fight against terror. Such remarks usually aim to show toughness of a certain politician and to score points with the population of one’s own country,” Putin told reporters in Buenos Aires.
He noted that he hopes that Moscow and London will be able to set on the path of positive development of bilateral relations as soon as possible.
"The United Kingdom is an important partner for us. We hope that, one day, — based on the fact that this should happen as soon as possible, — we will be able to overcome the difficulties existing in our relations and ultimately reach a trend of positive cooperation in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation," Putin said.
Kerch Strait Incident
Putin said the three Ukrainian naval ships seized in the Kerch Strait had it in their logs that they were on a mission to slip through Russian waters undetected.
“We have outlined our position and the very timeline of events. You can’t argue against it. How can you argue when it is written in the very ship logs that these ships were on a mission to slip into our territorial waters and through the Kerch Strait… It is a planned provocation. This is evident from the documents and sailors’ testimony. There’s nothing to argue about,” he told reporters on the G20 sidelines.
He added that the exchange of the detained in the incident Ukrainian sailors was not discussed, as Ukraine had not suggested it, and added that the investigation was under way.
“The issue about the swap has not been raised yet, including by the Ukrainian side. But it’s too early to discuss this while the probe is underway. We need to confirm the provocative nature of actions by the Ukrainian authorities and put it down in legal papers… We need complete confessions by sailors,” he said.
Conversation With Turkish President Erdogan
“We hope that our special services and the defense ministries will resolve this issue via joint efforts as soon as possible,” he added.
Japanese Prime Minister Visit to Russia
Russian President also said that he had agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina earlier in the day, that Abe would hold a visit to Russia in early 2019.
"I have agreed with the [Japanese] prime minister that he will hold a visit to Russia in the beginning of the next year. Perhaps, I will manage to hold a visit to Japan as well," Putin said at a press conference in Buenos Aires, following the G20 summit.
"We have discussed the need to create additional cooperation mechanisms, the need to enhance both sides' trust level via developing humanitarian contacts and economic ties," Putin said.
Putin added that his special representative and Abe's special representative would engage in work on the Russian-Japanese peace treaty.
"As for the new mechanisms, we have agreed that… from our side, there will be a special representative of the president, while there will be a special representative of the prime minister from the Japanese side. The foreign ministers will coordinate this work. We will announce the details later," Putin said.