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President Trump tweeted Thursday from Air Force One that he decided to cancel his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina this weekend as a result of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

"Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!"

The backdrop: Trump's decision comes just hours after his former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 about the length and scope of his work on plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Before taking off for Argentina, Trump told reporters he would be receiving a "full briefing" on Russia's latest act of aggression off of Crimea.

  • A Russian Coast Guard vessel Sunday slammed into a Ukrainian navy tugboat escorting two small warships through the Kerch Strait, which separates occupied Crimea from Russia. Russia then seized the three Ukrainian vessels and took 24 sailors prisoner.
  • That opened a new front in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has been raging for four years. "In the light of day, Moscow demonstrated that it will attack Ukraine with its conventional forces," says John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine now at the Atlantic Council.
  • Ukraine has declared martial law for 30 days in areas under threat from Russia, and President Petro Poroshenko has been calling for a show of strength and solidarity from NATO, the U.S. and European allies like Germany. In response to Trump's announcement, Poroshenko tweeted "this is how great leaders act!"

Go deeper: Russia gives up on Trump

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.