Trump Believes Crimea Belongs in Russia

Donald Trump, Feb. 10, 2011 (photo: Gage Skidmore)In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week,” Mr. Trump said that if he were president, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would not send his forces into Ukraine….

He’s not going into Ukraine, O.K., just so you understand,” Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, said when the issue came up. “He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”

“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?” Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted.

“O.K., well, he’s there in a certain way,” Mr. Trump replied. “But I’m not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he’s going away. He take — takes Crimea….”

The annexation of Crimea in 2014 was seen as both a power grab and a land grab by Mr. Putin. It was condemned by the United States and its European allies, which all issued sanctions. Since then, Russian troops, often out of uniform, have been seen, and sometimes killed, in Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine where a pro-Russia insurgency has fought the current Ukrainian government….

Mr. Trump went on to argue that Mr. Putin might have been welcome in Crimea, sidestepping the issue of whether the Russian leader had violated the sovereignty of another state to take the territory, where Russia has a major naval base.

“The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were,” Mr. Trump said. “And you have to look at that, also.”

He went on to say, “Ukraine is a mess,” but he put the blame for that on Mr. Obama, not on Mr. Putin.

Image: Donald Trump, Feb. 10, 2011 (photo: Gage Skidmore)