TASS, December 1. US President Donald Trump would like to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which can only be made possible after Russia releases Ukrainian servicemen currently detained in Crimea during the incident in the Kerch Strait, and returns the Ukrainian vessels back to Ukraine, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo stated in an interview with CNN on Saturday.
"We want the sailors returned, we want the ships returned," Pompeo said in response to the question about the conditions they require to continue dialogue with Russia. "We regret that (the Putin-Trump meeting cancellation - TASS), but the Russians caused this meeting to be canceled by their behavior in The Kerch Strait," the US State Secretary noted.
The US diplomat noted that Trump wishes to meet with the Russian leader. "The president [Trump] has said he wants to meet, he wants to have a conversation with president Putin. There are lots of things we need to find a path forward on together, lots of places where Americans are at risk," he pointed out, adding that so far, the US and Russia find themselves in a situation when the talks cannot be held.
According to Pompeo, Trump is trying to find a way to move forward with Russia". However, the situation in the Kerch Strait took place at a time when they could have started a discussion and could have made some progress, he added. "We regret that, but the Russians caused this meeting to be cancelled by their behavior in The Kerch Strait," the US State Secretary concluded.
On November 27, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree on imposing a 30-day martial law from November 28 in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. Initially, Poroshenko sought to impose martial law for 60 days, but this put into question holding the March presidential election and sparked a public outcry.
The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters and started performing dangerous maneuvers.
Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea. Three Ukrainian servicemen were wounded and received medical assistance. Their lives are currently not under threat. A criminal case has been launched over the violation of Russia’s state border. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation.