Donald Trump has claimed to be “FAR tougher on Russia,” than his predecessors Barack Obama, George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton — in fact, saying via Twitter that his supposed toughness on Russia has exceeded that of “any other president.”
But Trump has been widely criticized for what The Atlantic magazine called his clear “pattern of deference to the Kremlin.”
And on Tuesday that pattern appeared to continue as Trump, speaking at the White House to reporters during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, called for Russia to be reinstated into the G7, the group of wealthy, industrialized nations whose leaders meet annually.
“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Trump said at the press gathering, as quoted via Twitter by MSNBC. Trump said that he would look “very favorably” on any move to bring Russia back into the organization.
But in his statements to reporters, Trump appeared to misunderstand why Russia was expelled from the G7 — then known as the G8 — in 2014. According to Trump, Russia was expelled because President Barack Obama “thought it wasn’t a good thing” to include Russia in the group because, in Trump’s words, “Putin outsmarted him.”
TRUMP again calls for Russia to rejoin the G7:— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) August 20, 2019
“For most of the time it was the G8, it included Russia, and President Obama didn’t want Russia in because he got outsmarted. Well, that’s not the way it really should work." pic.twitter.com/5eRgHaSraq
Obama was, in fact, one of numerous world leaders who demanded that Russia be expelled from the G8 after Russia invaded and annexed the territory of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine in March of 2014, as CNN reported.
“International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force,” the world leaders said in a statement at the time, explaining why they joined forces to kick Russia out of the G8, reducing the group to seven member nations.
The member countries of the G7 are now the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. But in June of 2018, Trump called for Russia to be reinstated, according to a CNBC report.
Most countries of the world, including the United States, have refused to recognize Russia’s takeover of Crimea as legitimate. Only Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea have publicly approved of the Russian annexation, according to a Business Insider report.
Though even Trump’s own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the U.S. will “never” recognize Crimea as Russian territory, as CNN reported, Trump renewed his call to bring Russia back into the G7 on Tuesday.
A BBC report called Russia’s takeover of Crimea “the smoothest invasion of modern times,” noting that until Russia-backed paramilitary forces killed a Ukrainian army officer several weeks into the invasion, the annexation was “entirely bloodless.”