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Obama Talked to Putin Monday — but One Major Issue Was Left Out of the Conversation

“...did neccessiate a presidential level conversation.”

Photo Courtesy of Author.

President Barack Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday, but the leaders did not discuss the issue of Russian attack planes buzzing a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea last week, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Earnest told reporters that the incident “did not necessitate a presidential-level conversation.”

However, last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States “would have been justified” in firing on the planes.

In this Sept. 5, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Instead the two leaders spoke about the situations in Ukraine and Syria, Earnest said.

"[The Baltic Sea incident] did not come up in the call between the two presidents. As I mentioned, those kinds of activities are destabilizing and a source of some concern, but they are not particularly unusual," Earnest told the press. "There is an already well-established channel for expressing our concerns about these incidents from the U.S. military attaché in Moscow to his Russian military counterpart."

The Russian attack planes buzzed the naval destroyer multiple times on April 10 and 11, coming as close as an estimated 30 feet from the ship and twice passing below the ship’s navigation bridge, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

From the White House readout of the call issued after the press briefing:

President Obama spoke today by phone with President Vladimir Putin of Russia to share his concern over the status of the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria between the Syrian regime and its allies on the one hand and the armed opposition on the other. President Obama stressed the importance of pressing the Syrian regime to halt its offensive attacks against the opposition. The two leaders committed to intensify their efforts to shore up the Cessation of Hostilities and affirmed the need to end attacks by all parties and ensure humanitarian access to all besieged areas. President Obama also stressed that progress on these issues needed to be made in parallel to progress on political transition to end the conflict in Syria.

On Ukraine, President Obama urged President Putin to take steps to end the significant uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine and stressed the urgent importance of moving forward with full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

One last thing…
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