WASHINGTON — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will skip the G8 summit and ice breaker talks with President Barack Obama next week, the White House said, raising new questions about Moscow-Washington ties.
Putin had been expected at the summit at Camp David and to hold talks with the US leader in a first test of whether the “reset” policy between the Kremlin and the White House will survive his return to the presidency.
Officials said here after a call between the two leaders, that Putin would send ex-president, and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, with whom Obama had a close relationship over the last three years, to the United States.
“Noting his responsibilities to finalize cabinet appointments in the new Russian government, President Putin expressed his regret that he would be unable to attend the G8 Summit,” the statement said.
The Kremlin confirmed Thursday Putin will miss the summit, but will meet Obama at the G20 summit in June in Mexico.
“The American side received this information with understanding,” it added. It also confirmed Putin would be represented by Medvedev.
The summit at Obama’s Camp David retreat on May 18-19 will also mark the international coming out party of new French president Francois Hollande,
Putin’s move raised suspicions that there was already tension between the White House and Putin’s Kremlin, following an election campaign that saw the Russian leader fling angry rhetoric towards Washington.
But US officials noted that Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon spent two days in Moscow earlier this month where he met Putin and did not appear to believe there were sinister motives behind his decision to stay at home.
They said the US and Russian leaders will use the G20 summit in Mexico in June to get together instead, and the statement stressed the two sides wanted to work on common interests, despite differences in some areas.
It said that the two leaders welcomed the “reset” of relations and noted “substantial progress” during the last three years on issues like nuclear security, nuclear non-proliferation, Afghanistan, trade and commercial ties.
The Kremlin earlier reported Obama’s call with Putin but did not mention the Russian leader’s no-show at Camp David.
Putin’s non-arrival will dampen hopes for any progress on ending the violence in Syria, an ally of Russia, which has blocked the most punitive attempts to sanction President Bashar al-Assad’s at the UN.
Washington and Moscow have also been increasingly at odds over the issue of a US missile shield in Europe, which the US side says is not threat to Russia but the Kremlin says erodes its military deterrent.
In tough rhetoric last week, Russia warned that the dispute was near a “dead end” and warned it might have to deploy new rockets in Europe to take out elements of the controversial shield.
Obama signaled to Medvedev, in an infamous open-mic incident in what was supposed to be their last meeting in Seoul in March, that he could be more flexible on missile defense if he wins reelection in November.
After four years as prime minister, Putin began his third term as Russian president on Monday in an opulent Kremlin ceremony overshadowed by more arrests of activists protesting his 12-year domination of the country.
US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday that the United States was “disturbed” by Russia’s security crackdown on peaceful protesters and urged the authorities to allow freedom of speech and assembly.
Trump supporters lose their minds when church shows Nativity scene in immigrant cages
MAGA supporters are losing their minds after a photo of the Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church was posted to Facebook.
The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus separated and put in their own cages, a reference to the families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inside the church, the family is shown as reunited.
Senior minister Karen Clark Ristine shared the image on Facebook with the message hoping that everyone in the United States could see the photo and read the story for Christmas.
"The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world," she wrote. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."
Columnist nails Republicans for only caring about Hunter Biden now that his father is running for president
One of the critical questions that must be answered by Republicans, according to one Washington Post columnist, is why they didn't care about Hunter Biden's position at Burisma for so many years.
In a Sunday piece, James Downie asked why Republicans didn't do anything about Hunter Biden five years ago when it was first revealed that vice president's son was on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The House and the Senate were being run by Republicans until this year. They haven't had problems with other partisan investigations against high-profile leaders. There were ten investigations into the Benghazi attacks, three hearings, 29 witnesses, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours. Yet, it was only after Joe Biden announced he was running against President Donald Trump that Republicans discovered an issue.
Republican staffer caught spying on Democrats during Judiciary Committee meetings
A Republican staffer from the Ways and Means committee was caught spying on Democrats during their work over the weekend.
According to a Judiciary Committee source, the female staffer was ultimately discovered and ran out of the committee room once it was discovered she was there, tweeted Olivia Beavers, a writer at "The Hill."
"A Judiciary source says the committee, which has been practicing for their Monday impeachment hearing this whole weekend, came across a female GOP Ways and Means staffer in the hearing room today, but that she ran out once discovered," she tweeted.