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30 Nov, 2018 02:19

Bad publicity? Cohen? Russiagate? Many reasons Trump canceled Putin meeting, but Ukraine isn’t one

Bad publicity? Cohen? Russiagate? Many reasons Trump canceled Putin meeting, but Ukraine isn’t one

US President Donald Trump cited the recent incident in the Kerch Strait when canceling the meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Experts who spoke with RT doubt that this is the real reason behind the last-minute move.

Officially, Trump called off the meeting because “the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia,” he tweeted on Thursday, referring to the three vessels seized by the Russian coast guard while attempting to pass from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov through Russian waters.

“I think if it was the reason for the meeting being canceled it was a bad reason,” Dan Kovalik, professor of human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, told RT. “No matter how one views the Kerch strait situation and who was at fault there, I think it’s the very time to have a meeting between the US and Russia to try and sort that incident out, to try to deal again with all the tensions that are happening anywhere in Europe between Russia and NATO.”

Also on rt.com How Trump was finally tripped by sabotage of every meeting with Putin

Kovalik also argued that Trump might be feeling pressured not to look like he’s “colluding” with Putin – a charge leveled by his Democrat critics even before he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election, and used since to challenge the legitimacy of his presidency.

“It is certainly to avoid bad publicity. As you’ve noted, last time he met with Putin somehow he was seen as a traitor. That’s how crazy things have gotten in this country,” he told RT.

US media reacted with outrage to the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in July, with more than one outlet and talking head calling his remarks at a press conference there “treasonous.” That’s because Trump did not bring up Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election, which has become an article of faith in the US despite no actual evidence of it ever being produced.

“I think it’s more than a headline diversion,” former US diplomat Jim Jatras, told RT, saying that it might be more related to the appearance of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen in federal court and his guilty plea about discussing plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow that “all the anti-Trump people are chattering about today.”

“I think that’s the atmospheric reason why he feels he needs to cancel this meeting,” Jatras said.

Instead of being a statesman and starting a conversation with the leaders of Russia, India and China at the summit to resolve tensions from the Black Sea to the South China Sea, Trump is being dragged down by “these petty little political problems domestically here that are designed simply to undermine Trump’s presidency – and I’m sorry to say, he’s dancing like a monkey on a string,” Jatras said.

“I think he is afraid,” the former diplomat added.

Journalist Neil Clark thinks the only surprise about the cancellation is that anybody is surprised by it.

“I think that Trump in many ways was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t,” Clark told RT, noting that Democrats who called for him to cancel the meeting are now saying he should still meet with Putin, if only to criticize him over Russia’s alleged misconduct. If Trump had gone ahead with the meeting, he would’ve been accused of “appeasing Russian aggression” just like after Helsinki, Clark said.

Also on rt.com Trump cancels planned meeting with Putin at G20 over Russia-Ukraine flare up

There is a general atmosphere in Washington, the “mood music” pushing Trump to take a hard line towards Russia, and he is going along with it, Clark explained. He was also skeptical that the current US-Russia tensions could have been resolved in an hour-long meeting.

“There are forces at play here,” Clark told RT. “We’ve got the military-industrial complex, we’ve got the neocon think tanks, we’ve got the US energy industry, which is very keen to push Russia out of the European energy market.”

He also said he could see how Ukraine could have staged the Kerch Strait incident in order to sabotage the meeting, fearing that Trump and Putin might actually get along and eliminate some tensions between Washington and Moscow.

“There’s a lot of people out there who don’t want that to happen,” Clark said. "They really don’t want Russia and the US to have better relations

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