Donald Trump Fumbles On Crimea Issue, Will ‘Look Into’ Russian Claims

Donald Trump is taking heat again, this time over comments on Crimea. The GOP candidate said that he would look into recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, even hinting that he’s leaning towards accepting Russia’s claim to the territory. That would be a major shift in U.S. foreign policy, and Trump’s campaign officials are coming out to clarify the candidate’s position.

Donald Trump appeared on ABC’s This Week, hosted by George Stephanopoulos, and discussed some of his position on Russia. He explained, that if he were president, Vladimir Putin would not be going into Ukraine.

“He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. 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.”

Armed soldiers in Crimea with no identifying insignia.
Armed soldiers in Crimea with no identifying insignia. [Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

But as far as U.S. foreign policy is concerned, Russia is already occupying part of Ukraine – the Crimea region. In 2014, the regional government held a ballot referendum, deciding whether or not to secede from Ukraine. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of succession. A Republic of Crimea was quickly formed, and the government applied to join the Russian Federation. The referendum faced accusations of fraud after the voting.

Likewise, countries around the world have condemned the referendum as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, including the U.S. and all 28 members of the E.U. The U.S. issued limited sanctions against Russia in retaliation for what U.S. officials call a breach of international law. Under a Donald Trump presidency, that position might change.

According to CNN, when Stephanopoulos pressed the issue, explaining that Putin was already in Crimea, Trump explained further.

“OK – well, he’s there in a certain way. 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 takes Crimea.”

When the ABC News host pressed even further, particularly about Crimea, Donald Trump went on to say “I’m gonna take a look at it.”

“But 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.”

Jake Sullivan, foreign policy adviser for the Hillary Clinton campaign, commented on the interview with Donald Trump, asking “What is he talking about?”

Sullivan went on to say that Trump was effectively repeating Putin’s argument to justify the seizure of Crimea in the first place. He added, “This is scary stuff.”

Donald Trump tried to explain what he was talking about on Twitter.

According to Politico, Sam Clovis, Donald Trump’s campaign co-chair, went on MSNBC to clarify the clarifications, saying that the candidate was simply thinking of something else when trying to answer the question.

“I’m not trying to offer an excuse. But I will say, this is the – this is – the circumstance sometimes that, that – that happens. I think what was really at the heart of this.”

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton [Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images]

Clovis said that rather than making a “rash statement” on Crimea, it was better that the candidate explained that he’d try to find the truth in the issue before explaining his position on the subject.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Donald Trump has been under increasing scrutiny over ties to Russia along with his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who once worked for ousted Ukrainian president and Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych. Whether or not Donald Trump will reverse American policy on Crimea is still unclear.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]