U.S. Needs Trump-Putin Meeting as Much as Russia, Kremlin Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Kremlin struck a defiant note over Donald Trump’s threat to cancel a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin at this week’s Group of 20 summit, saying the U.S. needs talks between the two presidents to take place as much as Russia does.

The meeting in Buenos Aires will be held on Dec. 1 and “is equally necessary for both sides,” Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters Wednesday in Moscow. Officials from the two presidential administrations prepared the meeting in the usual way and Russia expects the U.S. to “communicate to us through appropriate channels and not through the media” if there are additional issues to consider, he said.

The U.S. president told the Washington Post in an interview Tuesday that “Maybe I won’t even have the meeting” with Putin after Russia captured three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews during clashes Sunday in the Kerch Strait near Crimea. “I don’t like that aggression,” Trump said.

Russia expects the talks to focus on bilateral relations and strategic stability, including the future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Ushakov said. “It’s very important to discuss together the options for an updated system of ensuring international security,” he said.

The two leaders may also discuss the dispute with Ukraine as well as other international security issues including Iran, Syria and the Korean Peninsula, he said.

This will be the first one-on-one meeting between Putin and Trump since the Helsinki summit in July, when White House officials were left mostly in the dark about what they agreed on during more than two hours of talks. Trump also provoked a political backlash at home, including from within his own Republican party, at a news conference alongside Putin, when he sided with his Russian counterpart’s denial of American intelligence conclusions that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential elections.

Other Key Points:

  • Putin plans to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Dec. 1 to discuss the oil market, Syria and the murdered critic Jamal Khashoggi; “But the main topic, of course is the development of bilateral relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
  • Putin will have trilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the summit on Nov. 30.
  • Putin will hold bilateral meetings with Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Nov. 30.
  • Putin is also scheduled to have bilateral meetings Dec. 1 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
  • Putin will speak on global trade at the summit on Nov. 30 and take part in Dec. 1 meetings on sustainable development and climate, infrastructure, energy and food safety, Ushakov said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.