December 1, 2018 / 9:21 PM / 17 days ago

Putin says no talks with Ukraine about release of sailors

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday there had been no discussion with Ukraine about the possible release of the Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships by Russia last month.

Putin spoke with reporters on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian naval ships that its border patrols fired upon and seized in the strait near Russian-annexed Crimea last weekend.

Moscow accused the 24 sailors of illegally crossing the Russian border.

Putin said he would not introduce tit-for-tat restrictions on the entry of Ukrainians into Russia after Kiev imposed a ban on Russian males aged 16 to 60 from entering its territory.

After U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a planned meeting with Putin at the G20 summit, citing the military tensions with Ukraine, the Russian leader said there were no pre-conditions for future bilateral talks.

“It is regrettable that we can’t succeed in holding a full-scale meeting, which is long due,” Putin said, adding that issues of strategic stability would be of paramount importance.

Putin and Trump had a brief meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Friday, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said.

Trump’s administration has accused Russia of non-compliance with the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and has said it will pull out of the deal as a result. The Kremlin denies violating the pact.

“This is related to the issues of strategic stability, especially after the president declared his desire to withdraw from the INF missile treaty,” Putin added.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Will Dunham

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