A few days ago, reporters on Air Force One asked President Trump if he would accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. They had good reason to do so. As Trump prepares for his July 16 summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, there have been signs that the U.S. president might be considering some sort of grand bargain that might entail recognition of Moscow’s claims.
You’d think that the journalists’ question would be an easy one to answer. Putin seized the territory from Ukraine using a cunning blend of subterfuge and military force, in the process flouting a series of international agreements signed by his own government. The international community has overwhelmingly condemned this smash-and-grab — the diplomatic equivalent of an armed robbery. Until that moment four years ago, no country had annexed the territory of a European neighbor since World War II.
So how did Trump answer? “We’re going to have to see,” he said.
Most of the president’s statements on Crimea are similarly slippery, but one recent report gives a hint of his real views on the subject. Over dinner at the recent Group of Seven summit, according to BuzzFeed, he told other summit participants that Crimea is Russian because the population of the peninsula speaks Russian. [Continue reading…]