U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said here on Thursday that there will be no meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when Russia still holds Ukrainian ships and sailors.
While speaking on U.S. new Africa strategy at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank, Bolton said that "I don' t see circumstances in the foreseeable future where such a meeting could take place until the ships and the crews are released."
He also lashed out at Russia over its alleged attempt to "increase its influence in the region through corrupt economic dealings."
Trump has, for his part, announced to cancel the planned meeting with Putin, before arriving in Argentina for the Group of 20 summit, citing that "the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia."
On Nov. 25, Russia seized three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait, saying the Ukrainian vessels sparked the confrontation by refusing to yield upon orders from Russian border forces to change their course in Russian territorial waters.
The Ukraine side denied that the vessels were in Russian waters and they had the right to sail through the Kerch Strait, calling Russia's move an "act of aggression" and imposing a martial law in certain regions of the country for 30 days starting on Nov. 28.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Wednesday that the West's deterrence is "on the horizon" to respond to Russia's recent confrontation with Ukraine and its military moves in Venezuela.