The American president apparently claims that Crimea has become Russian for good. At least that is what he says, because when it comes to action, Trump’s administration is even more pro-Ukrainian than the previous Obama administration.
Trump has spoken numerous times about the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, and surprisingly often. Two years ago, while he was running for president, he claimed that America should accept the result of the Crimean referendum, which Russia considered to be an argument for annexation. It is worth recalling that the referendum was not recognized by almost any country in the world, including the entire Western world.
When Trump had already moved into the White House and the allegations about Russian influence on his election appeared, he decided to change sides. He expressed hope that Putin would give Crimea back to the Ukrainian people.
At the moment, at least that’s what BuzzFeed claims based on two anonymous sources. The president now claims that the Crimean Peninsula is Russian because everyone living there speaks Russian. In addition, Ukraine reportedly does not deserve to have Crimea returned because it is entirely corrupt. Trump supposedly said as much at the end of the festive dinner during the summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations in Quebec in the presence of the German chancellor, the prime ministers of Japan, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as the president of France.
The context of these words is unknown. They are shocking anyway. Trump’s political geography is definitely illogical. If corruption is the standard used to indicate that one is unworthy of possessing land, then Russia would be the ultimate loser, as it trumps all of its neighbors. In the latest survey by Transparency International,* Russia is in 135th place [with respect to corruption] whereas Ukraine is slightly better at 130 (but which is nevertheless very bad for a country which aspires to be included among Western institutions).
The language argument has already been ridiculed by publicists and analysts. According to this argument, the U.S. should belong to the United Kingdom, same with Ireland. Next time, Trump will say that the Parisian suburbs should belong to Saudi Arabia, as Arabic is commonly spoken there.
Trump’s words should frighten people in Ukraine (as they rather generated criticism and sarcastic commentary). But the actions of his administration should not. It was America under President Trump which gave Ukraine the most relevant support during the war with Russia in the form of deadly weapons (Javelin armor-piercing guided missiles), it is Trump’s America which is doing the most to stop building the Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which would be harmful for Ukraine. We can only speculate whether this is happening because of Trump or in spite of him. But these are the facts concerning the country in which he is president.
In his statement as reported by BuzzFeed, Trump reportedly offered some words of explanation. “Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea,” Trump said. Obama’s America apparently forgot about the guarantees of territorial integrity given to Kiev in 1994 (in the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances) and agreed to the Russian annexation of the peninsula. Obama’s administration even encouraged Ukrainians not to resist.
*Editor’s note: Transparency International is an international nongovernmental organization based in Berlin and founded in 1993 to combat global corruption and prevent criminal activities arising from corruption.
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