The Cable

As Ukraine Frets Over Trump, Russian U.N. Envoy Talks Up His Business Skills

Ukrainian officials are expressing concern over Donald Trump while Russians boast about his business successes.

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Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claim that Crimea wanted to be annexed by Russia in 2014 evidence that he is “a dangerous fringe politician.” Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said it was “a breach of moral and civilized principles.” And Ukrainian ambassador to Washington Valeriy Chaly told Foreign Policy in an email Monday that the businessman’s comments raised concern in Kiev, especially if they could lead to a dramatic shift in U.S. policy.   

“Despite the Minsk agreements, Russia has not left from Donbass and continues to build military capacity there killing and wounding people every day,” Chaly wrote. “Appeasing the aggressor would not help to stop the violence, on the contrary, it will provoke him to go further West, undermine security in Europe, and open a Pandora’s box of bigger instability in the world.”

But speaking to reporters outside the United Nations Security Council on Monday, Vitaly Churkin, Moscow’s envoy to the U.N., refused to respond to Trump’s Crimea statements, saying only that he has met Trump twice in the past few decades and has been “impressed” by him on both occasions.

“He was a very impressive guy as a businessman,” Churkin said of Trump, explaining that he met him in the mid-1980s with then-Soviet ambassador to Washington Yuri Dubinin, when Trump was interested in doing business in Moscow.

“It never happened, it never happened. But I was impressed by his vigorous and open approach to doing business,” Churkin said. He also said he met him more recently in a social context, but did not elaborate on that, and avoided questions about whether Trump has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. His own impressions of Trump, Churkin said, are simply “a personal observation” from 30 years ago.

Trump has repeatedly said that he and Putin would work well together, and has advocated for improved relations with Moscow, which have been particularly frosty during Barack Obama’s presidency.

“If our country got along with Russia, that would be a great thing,” Trump said on ABC on Sunday.

Foreign Policy senior staff writer Colum Lynch contributed to this report from New York.

Photo credit: Matthew Busch/Getty Images

Reid Standish is a journalist based in Astana, Kazakhstan covering Central Asia and Eurasia for Foreign Policy and other publications. He was formerly an associate editor at FP. Twitter: @reidstan

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