U.S. billionaire Donald Trump, newly elected 45th president, have mentioned Ukraine on numerous occasions – both during his campaign and before. The most notable quotes of the new president-elect on that issue have been compiled by UNIAN.
About Crimea annexation in February 28, 2014 on so-called "referendum", when Vladimir Putin's "little green men" were seizing Crimea, Trump tweeted:
"The U.S. has appealed ro Russia not to intervene in Ukraine - Russia tells U.S. they will not become involved, and then laughs loudly!"
In early March, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump elaborated on his vision of the events in Ukraine and Russia's role in them, praising Putin's stance, as Buzzfeed reported:
"So he has the Olympics," Trump said. "The day after the Olympics, he starts with Ukraine. The day after. How smart? You know, he didn't want to do it during the Olympics. Boom. The day after. So our athletes leave, we all leave, and the day after. And you know, when he goes in and takes Crimea, he's taking the heart and soul because that's where all the money is. I was surprised. I heard that the other day. They were saying, most of the wealth comes right from that area."
"That's the area with the wealth," Trump continued. "So that means the rest of Ukraine will fall and it's predicted to fall fairly quickly. Because without the money, it's like this country. If we don't make this country great, it's gonna fall. It's gonna really fall. It's already falling. You go into our airports, you go look at our bridges, you look at our roadways, we're becoming a third-world country. So when you see what they're doing in Ukraine, it's just a question of time."
Donald Trump also called Ukraine a "problem" when he was addressing a crowd of his supporters in New Hampshire August 14, 2015. He stressed the need for Germany and other European nations to step up efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis. Trump also made it clear that we would continue to support Ukraine if elected president as the U.S. should support its "friends", he said.
On August 16 2015, in an interview with NBC News, Donald Trump stunned the Ukrainians with his indifference to the prospect of the country's possible membership in NATO.
"I wouldn't care. If [Ukraine] goes in, great. If it doesn't go in, great," Trump said.
He also hinted that the U.S. would cease to be a global leader of support for Ukraine if he were elected president.
"I don't like what's happening with Ukraine. 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," he said.
In several weeks, in his speech in a video conference format during the YES summit in Kyiv September 16 2015, his position on Ukraine softens a bit.
"My feeling is that in respect to the (sic!) Ukraine, people have to mend together from the other parts of Europe to help. I don't think that the (sic!) Ukraine is given the proper respect from other parts of Europe. And this is the respect that Ukraine deserves, and they've proven this over the years, over the many years. But that's the respect you absolutely deserve. So whether it's Germany or other of the countries I don't think you're getting the support that you need. The U.S. has been most supportive but more verbally than anything else. Our president is not strong and he's not doing that he should be doing for Ukraine. So far all we have all lip service… and nothing else. Part of the problem that Ukraine has with the U.S. is that Putin does not respect our president whatsoever," he said.
However, in his interview with The New York Times in March 2016, he openly expresses his support of Ukraine.
"One of the things that I hated seeing is Ukraine. Now I'm all for Ukraine," he said. "We are the least affected by what happens with Ukraine because we're the farthest away. But even their neighbors didn't seem to be talking about it. And, you know, you look at Germany, you look at other countries, and they didn't seem to be very much involved. It was all about us and Russia. And I wondered, why is it that countries that are bordering the Ukraine and near the Ukraine – why is it that they're not more involved? Why is it that they are not more involved? Why is it always the United States that gets right in the middle of things, with something that – you know, it affects us, but not nearly as much as it affects other countries," said Trump.
He went on to say: "If you look back, and if you study your reports and everybody else's reports, how often do you see other countries saying 'We must stop, we must stop.' They don't do it! And, in fact, with the gas, you know, they wanted the oil, they wanted other things from Russia, and they were just keeping their mouths shut. And here the United States was going out and, you know, being fairly tough on the Ukraine. And I said to myself, isn't that interesting? We're fighting for the Ukraine, but nobody else is fighting for the Ukraine other than the Ukraine itself, of course, and I said, it doesn't seem fair and it doesn't seem logical."
On March 22 2016, Donald Trump raised the issue of whether the U.S. needed to be part of NATO in its current state, adding in the context of Ukraine that America's allies are "not doing anything", according to The Washington Post.
"Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we're doing all of the lifting," Trump said. "They're not doing anything. And I say: 'Why is it that Germany's not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of Ukraine, why aren't they dealing? Why are we always the one that's leading, potentially the third world war with Russia.'"
In May's interview with Reuters, Trump made a brief comment on Russian presence in Ukraine, saying that he didn't like it at all.
However, perhaps the most prominent statements regarding Ukraine were made by Donald Trump in the summer of 2016.
First, he told a press conference that he might look into recognizing the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Then, several hours later, on air of ABC, Trump said about Vladimir Putin: "He's not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He's not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want."
Well, he's already there, isn't he?" the TV host responded, meaning that Russia had already seized Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014.
Trump replied: "OK -- well, he's there in a certain way. But I'm not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you're talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he's going away. He takes Crimea."
Trump attempted to clarify his position on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in a series of tweets Monday morning, after he was criticized for his muddled response in the interview. He explained that when he said Russia wouldn't move into Ukraine, he was referring to a time when he is president, according to CNN.
"When I said in an interview that Putin is "not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down," I am saying if I am President. Already in Crimea!"
Earlier reported Russia was in contact with Trump’s team during campaign - Bloomberg.