ABC host George Stephanopoulos corrected Donald Trump after the Republican presidential nominee claimed that Russia was “not going to go into Ukraine.”
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that aired Sunday, Trump asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not going to invade Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels — and some Russian special forces — have been operating for several years despite Putin’s reluctance to acknowledge any role.
“He’s not going into Ukraine, just so you understand. He’s not going to go to Ukraine,” Trump said.
“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?” Stephanopoulos replied.
Trump responded by simultaneously criticising the US’ decision not to intervene to stop the annexation of Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, and noting that many citizens of Crimea were allegedly supportive of Russia’s decision to invade.
“Well, he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there. You have Obama there,” Trump said. “And frankly that part of the world is mess, under Obama. With all the strength that you’re talking about, and with all the power of NATO, and all of this, in the mean time, [Putin] takes Crimea.”
He added: “You know the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were, and you have to look at that also.”
Earlier in the interview, the real-estate magnate shrugged off his campaign’s influence in removing a provision of the Republican Party platform that would have advocated providing arms to Ukraine to defend itself from Russian aggression.
“I was not involved in that. I’d have to take a look at it, but I was not involved in that,” Trump said of the decision to alter the platform.
Trump’s relationship with Russia and favourable statements about Putin have come under scrutiny in recent days following his suggestion for Russian hackers to find emails that Hillary Clinton deleted after serving as secretary of state. The Republican nominee responded to criticism of his comments by claiming he was being sarcastic.
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