President Trump on Friday blamed his predecessor for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Trump insisted that former President Barack Obama was solely responsible for Russia taking the contested peninsula from Ukraine because Russian President Vladimir Putin did not "respect" Obama.
Puitn invaded and annexed the area in 2014. Obama and other world leaders condemned the move and placed heavy economic sanctions on Russia in response. The country was also booted from the elite Group of Eight of world leaders, making it the G7.
“President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn't respect President Obama,” Trump said Friday as he spoke to reporters outside the White House. “Didn't respect our country and didn't respect Ukraine. President Obama, not Trump -- when it's my fault, I'll tell you.”
Trump recently stunned American allies by proposing Russia be allowed to rejoin the G7.
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“I think it’s better to have Russia in, than to have Russia out,” he reiterated on Friday.
According to recent reports, Trump questioned the reasoning behind Russia’s expulsion and defended Putin while meeting with world leaders last week in Canada.
Two diplomatic sources told BuzzFeed News that Trump told world leaders over dinner that Crimea was part of Russia because most of its population speaks the Russian language, adding that the president appeared to question why world leaders had sided with Ukraine over Russia.
"Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world," the President said, according to one source.
It’s far from the first time that Trump has offered an opinion on the contested peninsula that contrasted with most of America’s allies. During the 2016 campaign, Trump claimed the people of Crimea were happy to be taken over by Russian forces.
“You know the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were, and you have to look at that also," Trump said in an interview with ABC News in July 2016. "And frankly that part of the world is a mess, under Obama. With all the strength that you're talking about, and with all the power of NATO, and all of this, in the meantime [PUTIN] takes Crimea."