Russian president Vladimir Putin has stunned the US by giving an emphatic Nyet to attending next week's G8 Summit, scheduled to be held at Camp David in Maryland.
Putin, who was elected Russian president for a third term after serving one term as the country's prime minister, has told White House officials that he will be too busy to attend the strategic summit, which is a forum for the governments of eight of the world's largest economies.
An official statement from the Kremlin read, "Noting his responsibilities to finalize cabinet appointments in the new Russian government, President Putin expressed his regret that he would be unable to attend the G8 Summit." In his place, Russia will send former president and now current prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, with whom US president Barack Obama has a more cordial relationship.
Putin—a sharp critic of the US president and his policies during his re-election campaign—will meet Obama on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Mexico next month instead. The news of the snub comes a week after Russian officials threatened to use "preemptive, destructive force" if the United States went ahead with scheduled plans to install a missile defense system in eastern Europe.
The summit, which is to take place May 18-19, will also be the official welcoming of newly-elected French president Françoise Hollande, who ousted Nicolas Sarkozy after serving only one term of office.
The Bear & The Eagle: Russia Warns US on Euro Missile Plan