President Donald Trump left the door open to recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, telling reporters that such a move would be up for discussion when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.
“We’re going to have to see,” Trump told reporters Friday on Air Force One when asked if the U.S. would accept Russia’s claim on the territory it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin in Helsinki on July 16, and Crimea will be one of many items on the agenda, he said.
“I’ll talk to him about everything,” Trump told reporters when asked if he would speak with Putin about Crimea. “We’re going to be talking about Ukraine, we’re going to be talking about Syria, we’ll be talking about elections, and we don’t want anybody tampering with elections.”
Trump has shown a willingness to embrace positions favored by Russia. During the Group of Seven nations summit in Quebec earlier this month, Trump mentioned that Russia has invested heavily in Crimea since the annexation.
“They’ve spent a lot of money on rebuilding it,” Trump said on June 9, declining to criticize Russia for annexing its neighbor.
He also called for Russia to be allowed back into the group, which was formerly the G-8. Russia was expelled from the body over Crimea.
Trump has not criticized Russia or Putin for the seizure, and instead has blamed former President Barack Obama.
“President Obama allowed that to happen which is very unfortunate,” Trump told reporters Friday. “It was during President Obama’s term in office.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating whether any members of Trump’s presidential campaign cooperated with Russia’s meddling during the 2016 election.