A Ukraine government plan to embarrass Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit failed Thursday when an Argentine company refused to erect a protest poster outside the meeting.
Kiev planned to mount a giant billboard depicting a bleeding Kerch strait off Crimea where Russia’s capture on Sunday of three Ukrainian ships sparked a pre-summit crisis.
But the move was thwarted when an Argentine advertising company refused to erect the poster, Emine Dzhaparova, Ukraine’s deputy information minister, told reporters in Buenos Aires.
The prime objective was to win the release of 24 Ukrainian sailors “illegally detained” by Russian forces, she said.
“We hope that the summit, the meetings of the leaders — like the president of the United States, who is going to meet Putin — will result in the Ukrainian prisoners being released,” she said.
Trump later announced he was cancelling his planned meeting with Putin “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”
Dzhaparova echoed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s call on NATO to send ships to the region as a show of force against Russia.
Poroshenko retweeted Trump’s change of mind about the Putin meeting and added in English: “This is how great leaders act!”
Putin insists his forces were right to seize the ships as they had intruded into Russian waters, a claim denied by Kiev.