The drama surrounding a possible Trump-Putin discussion at the G-20 summit became needlessly confusing. There was a resolution, though it wasn’t an entirely satisfying one.
To recap, on Thursday morning, the Kremlin announced that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin would have a one-on-one meeting in Argentina. Russian officials said that U.S. officials had “confirmed” that the presidential encounter would happen, and the American leader told reporters soon after, “I think it’s a very good time to have the meeting.”
An hour later, Trump reversed course, announcing by way of a tweet that he’d canceled the meeting, blaming “the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.” Russian officials and media publicly mocked the explanation, largely because it was literally unbelievable.
As the summit got underway, a Kremlin spokesperson claimed the two leaders would have an impromptu meeting in Argentina, though a White House official denied it. So, what ended up happening? If you guessed that the two would have a private chat despite all the drama, give yourself a prize. USA Today reported:
“As is typical at multilateral events, President Trump and the first lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Sanders did not provide additional detail about the extent of the meeting, or what was discussed. Trump drew fire for a similar encounter over dinner at the G-20 summit in Hamburg last year when the White House disclosed days later that the two presidents met without any U.S. aides present.
Though Trump hasn’t commented on the conversation, Putin told reporters that the two leaders discussed Russia’s confrontation with Ukrainian ships in the Kerch straight.
Because the conversation was “informal,” there’s no official White House account of the meeting.