In April of this year, Donald Trump held talks at the White House with leaders of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, three countries known collectively as “the Baltics” because they sit in northeast Europe on the coast of the Baltic Sea. But at that meeting, Trump greeted the Baltic leaders by berating them for, he said, starting the 1991 war that broke up the former Yugoslavia, according to a report by the French newspaper Le Monde.
There was only one problem. That war had nothing to do with the Baltics. Instead, the war took place in the Balkans, which as CNN recounts, is the region in southeast Europe named for the Balkan mountain range. The Balkans includes such countries as Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The region was united into a single Communist county known as Yugoslavia following World War II, under the autocratic rule of former guerrilla leader Josip Broz Tito, who remained in power there from 1945 until 1980, when he died. A decade later, a brutal war broke out as the various countries that had been united by Tito broke away.
Trump apparently is unaware of that history, and confused the Balkans with the Baltic in the White House meeting with Baltic leaders. But he has another reason why he would be expected to know the difference. His third and current wife, First Lady Melania Trump, was born in the Balkan country of Slovenia, per her White House bio.
“Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia and Raimonds Vējonis of Latvia… took ‘a moment to realize that ‘Baltics’ and ‘Balkan’ were getting mixed up in the mind of the American president,'” The Guardian reported.
Le Monde observed that Trump was “apparently uneducated in the matter by his wife, Melania, originally from the former Yugoslavia.” The French paper’s revelation came out the same day that Trump skipped a memorial to fallen U.S. servicemen who died in France during World War I — due to rain, as Inquisitr reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long blamed Western countries for supposedly plotting the breakup of Yugoslavia, as Huffington Post noted. The Baltic states came under rule of the Soviet Union in 1940, according to Foreign Affairs, and remained under Soviet domination until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
But Baltic leaders have long feared that Putin has designs on their countries, with the aim of once again making the three nations part of a Russian empire. At his April meeting with the three leaders, however, Trump told them that getting along with Russia, per USA Today, was “a good thing, not a bad thing,” and that only “very stupid people” disagreed with his views on Russia.