Kerry Cancels Plan to Visit Putin in Moscow
MOSCOW - Secretary of State John Kerry has canceled unannounced plans to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week, a U.S. official told ABC News.
The two were expected to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, where the United States blames Russia for arming and funding the separatist forces. The U.S. has also accused Russia of sending its troops across the border to bolster the rebels. Russia has denied the accusations.
The decision to cancel the visit came just days after an alleged Russian spy ring was broken up in New York, and after last weekend's offensive by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. This week, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew suggested the United States could expand sanctions on Russia as the fighting in Ukraine continues.
Kerry is still expected to attend next week's Munich Security Conference, and the possibility remains he may meet his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, there.
On the same trip, Kerry will stop in Kiev, where he will meet with Ukrainian leaders, including President Petro Poroshenko. In a statement, Kerry's spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said the visit aimed to demonstrate "the United States' steadfast support for Ukraine and its people."
Secretary Kerry would have been the first cabinet-level U.S. official to visit Russia since the Ukraine crisis began last year. Kerry's last trip to Russia came in May 2013, shortly before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow, harming U.S.-Russia relations.
President Obama visited St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit in September 2013, but canceled plans for a summit with Putin in Moscow during the same trip after Snowden received asylum in Russia.