Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday in an attempt to clear up a statement he made on ABC’s “This Week” that Russia was “not going to go into Ukraine.”
“When I said in an interview that Putin is ‘not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down,’ I am saying if I am President,” the Republican nominee tweeted. “Already in Crimea!”
“So with all of the Obama tough talk on Russia and the Ukraine, they have already taken Crimea and continue to push,” he added. “That’s what I said!”
The Manhattan billionaire’s comments, which appeared to mean Russia will not advance further into Ukraine under a Trump administration, came after ABC host George Stephanopoulos corrected Trump mid-interview after he made an incorrect assertion about Russian involvement in Ukraine.
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 both 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.”
“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,” he added.
Earlier in the interview, he 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,” he said. “I’d have to take a look at it, but I was not involved in that.”
Trump’s come under scrutiny this past week for his relationship with Russia after following his suggestion for Russian hackers to find emails that Hillary Clinton deleted after serving as secretary of state. He claimed he was just being sarcastic.
Maxwell Tani contributed to this report.
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