Trump Tells Ukraine Conference Their Nation Was Invaded Because ‘There is No Respect for The United States’
Plunging into a burning geopolitical conflict, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said Friday that Russia had pursued an aggressive policy in Ukraine because “there is no respect for the United States.”
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not respect our president whatsoever,” said Trump.
But he held back from promising more U.S. support for a nation where almost 8,000 people have been killed since April 2014, saying that it was Europe’s responsibility.
Trump’s comments, delivered via videolink, represented a slight tonal shift for the billionaire, though his policy prescriptions remained essentially unchanged. Trump has said in the past that he “would not care that much” whether or not Ukraine was allowed to join NATO. (“Whether it goes in or doesn’t go in, I wouldn’t care,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd last month. “If it goes in, great. If it doesn’t go in, great.”)
But on Friday, he was addressing an international conference whose official purpose is to “develop strategies for Ukraine and Wider Europe and promote Ukraine’s European integration” — a gathering that was itself a refugee from Crimea, where it was held for a decade before being displaced by Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula. His language reflected the audience.
“With respect to the Ukraine, people here have to band together from other parts of Europe to help,” Trump said. “Whether it’s Germany or other of the countries, I don’t think you’re getting the support you need.”
The remarks were consistent with his previous comments that the crisis in Ukraine is a European problem, and that the United States should avoid becoming involved in addressing the situation. “I don’t like what’s happening with Ukraine,” he said on Meet the Press in August. “But that’s really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us. And they should be leading some of this charge.”
His NATO support has long been colored by his view that it gives European countries a pathway to place the burden of international responsibility on the United States. In his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump wrote that “their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually.”
(h/t The Washington Post)
First we require a little context.
Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since veered between seeking closer integration with Western Europe and being drawn into the orbit of Russia, which sees its interests as threatened by a Western-leaning Ukraine.
During this time however, Russians never thought of Ukrainians as a separate entity from them, but considered them as fellow Russians. And Moscow loved having a pro-Russian country acting as a buffer between Russia and western NATO countries.
However inside Ukraine massive corruption was the status quo, from the bottom of the government to the very top.
Then Ukraine became gripped by unrest when President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in 2013. An organized political movement known as ‘Euromaidan‘ demanded closer ties with the European Union, and the ousting of Yanukovych. This movement was ultimately successful, culminating in the February 2014 revolution, which removed Yanukovych and his government. However, some people in largely Russophone eastern and southern Ukraine, the traditional bases of support for Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions, did not approve of the revolution, and began to protest in favor of closer ties with Russia. Various demonstrations were held in Crimea in favor of leaving Ukraine and accession to the Russian Federation, leading to the 2014 Crimean crisis and the continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine.
Make no mistake, Donald Trump has taken a very pro-Russian stance on Ukraine.