US President Donald Trump on Friday said that Russia's recent military actions against Ukraine were the “sole reason” he decided to scrap a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina, The Hill reports.
Speaking with reporters, Trump downplayed the notion that the meeting was canceled due to developments in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Moscow's interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
"We don't like what happened, we're not happy about what happened,” Trump said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, referring to Russia's seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels and personnel earlier this week.
“On the basis of what took place with the ships and sailors, that was the sole reason," he added.
Trump's planned meeting with Putin was one of the most highly anticipated events heading into the global summit in Argentina that started Friday, but the president abruptly announced on Thursday he would no longer meet with the Russian leader.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the decision was made aboard Air Force One en route to the summit after Trump discussed the Ukraine situation with his national security team.
Some in Washington said they suspected Trump may have wanted to avoid appearing with Putin after Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about plans in 2016 to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Russian and Ukrainian naval forces faced off in the Black Sea Sunday, with the Russian navy blocking a key waterway during the confrontation.
The incident threatens to reignite the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which intensified in 2014 when Russia occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
On Monday, at a UN Security Council meeting to discuss Sunday’s incident, US Ambassador Nikki Haley urged Russia to "immediately cease its unlawful conduct" in the Black Sea.
Ukraine has imposed martial law in parts of the country to fight what its president, Petro Poroshenko, has called "growing aggression" from Moscow.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)