The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Trump Hits Obama For Russia’s Annexation of Crimea — After Apparently Not Knowing It’d Happened

‘Who wouldn’t know this?’ Trump said of the Russian incursion. Well …

trumprussia

Republican nominee Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “stronger leader” than U.S. President Barack Obama. He has said the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State should leave Syria to Moscow. And he has hinted he may not defend NATO allies against Russian incursion.

But on Tuesday night, he asked why Obama gets a “free pass” for, presumably, allowing Russia to take Crimea.

“Russia took Crimea during the so-called Obama years,” Trump tweeted. “Who wouldn’t know this and why does Obama get a free pass?”

Republican nominee Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “stronger leader” than U.S. President Barack Obama. He has said the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State should leave Syria to Moscow. And he has hinted he may not defend NATO allies against Russian incursion.

But on Tuesday night, he asked why Obama gets a “free pass” for, presumably, allowing Russia to take Crimea.

“Russia took Crimea during the so-called Obama years,” Trump tweeted. “Who wouldn’t know this and why does Obama get a free pass?”

The irony of hitting Obama for not preventing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 was apparently lost on the social media prolific and apoplectic real estate magnate.

Trump has suggested he’d recognize Crimea as part of Russia if elected, and beyond taking sovereign territory, also has directly urged Moscow to take Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s emails. He frequently expresses his admiration for Putin, noting recently that the Russian leader who has cracked down on political opposition has high popularity in national polls — a point Obama mocked earlier Tuesday in a rally for Clinton.

“Well, yes, so did — Saddam Hussein had a 90 percent poll rating,” Obama said in his Philadelphia speech, comparing Putin’s tactics to those of the deceased Iraqi strongman. “I mean, if you control the media, and you’ve taken away everybody’s civil liberties, and you jail dissidents, that’s what happens.”

“I have to do business with Putin. I have to do business with Russia. That’s part of foreign policy,” Obama continued. “But I don’t go around saying that’s my role model.”

To help answer Trump’s rhetorical question: “Who wouldn’t know this?” here are a few choice examples of when he himself apparently did not.

July 27: “Yes, we would be looking at that.”

— Trump’s response to a reporter asking whether, if elected, he would recognize Crimea as part of Russia and lift sanctions on Moscow.

July 31: “He’s not going into Ukraine, O.K., 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.”

— Trump, speaking of Putin, on ABC’s “This Week

“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 later in the same show

Aug. 1: 

Photo credit: Kommersant Photo / Contributor

 

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.