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Donald Trump Belongs to Russia, State-Run Media Says

Newsweek logo Newsweek 18/06/2018 Cristina Maza

From left: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk after a meeting on the closing day of the 25th APEC summit.: 872800826 © Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS/Getty Images 872800826 Russia’s state-run media channel Russia 24 wants everyone to know that President Donald Trump belongs to Moscow.

Responding to reports that Trump told world leaders at the G-7 meeting in Canada last week that Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula is Russian because everyone there speaks Russian, the hosts of the Russian version of 60 Minutes victoriously declared that “Crimea is ours, Trump is ours.”

Russia was kicked out of the G-8, an intergovernmental political group of the world’s most developed economies, in 2014 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine. The international community considers Russia’s annexation of Crimea illegal.

During a tense meeting with world leaders at the G-7 meeting in Canada last week, Trump questioned why the international community cared about Crimea and advocated on behalf of Russia being readmitted to the group. Sources told Buzzfeed Newsthat Trump grilled world leaders about why they were backing Ukraine over Russia, allegedly calling Ukraine corrupt. He also publicly blamed former President Barack Obama for having “allowed” Russia to annex Crimea.

“President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn't respect President Obama, didn't respect our country and didn't respect Ukraine,” Trump said during a recent press conference.

Russia has been trying to exert its authority over the Crimean Peninsula, an area of land that juts into the Black Sea between Russia and Ukraine, for hundreds of years. The peninsula was first annexed by Russian Empress Catherine the Great in 1783, and did not rejoin Ukraine until 1954, shortly after the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The area has been home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since the 1700s.

The majority of the population in Crimea is ethnic Russian and speaks Russian language. The peninsula also has sizable Ukrainian and ethnic Tatar populations.

In 2014, around 95.5 percent of voters in Crimea supported joining Russia in a referendum. Moscow has since used this referendum to justify its annexation of the territory. Russia also recently completed the construction of a bridge that joins mainland Russia with Crimea. The companies of several Putin-linked oligarchs, all of which are under international sanctions due to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, constructed the bridge. Opponents, however, have called the Crimean referendum illegal, and some claim that the results were illegitimate because people who supported a union with Ukraine refused to participate. 

Neither Trump nor the White House have denied that the U.S. president made the comments about Crimea. Speaking on the Russian version of 60Minutes, Russian politician Oleg Morozov said that Trump’s refusal to deny that he had made the comments demonstrated that “Ukraine means nothing to him.”

The comments were made as special counsel Robert Mueller investigated whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Members of the U.S. intelligence community have determined that Russia attempted to interfere in the election in order to help Trump win.

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