Putin Pulls Out of G8 Meeting, Stuns US
Re-elected Russian prez sending Medvedev to Camp David
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2012 4:00 AM CDT
Updated May 10, 2012 5:46 AM CDT
Busy Russian leader Vladimir Putin sips tea in the Kremlin.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Looks like the relationship between President Obama and President Putin might be off to a rocky start. The Russian leader has surprised the White House by saying he won't be attending the G8 summit at Camp David next week, reports the New York Times. Putin was recently elected for a third term as president after serving one term as prime minister, and the summit would have marked the first meeting between the two men as presidents. Putin—who sharply criticized the US during his re-election campaign—will meet Obama on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Mexico next month instead.

In a phone call to Obama, Putin said he needed to "finalize cabinet appointments in the new government," and would instead be sending Dmitry Medvedev—now prime minister again after a term keeping the president's chair warm for Putin. Several administration and European officials say the summit was shifted from Chicago to accommodate Putin, but a White House spokesman disputed that, saying Obama moved the summit because he wanted a "more relaxed atmosphere to facilitate a candid discussion among world leaders."