Alberto Nardelli and Julia Ioffe at BuzzFeed, June 14, 2018.
President Donald Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian, according to two diplomatic sources. Trump made the remarks over dinner last Friday during a discussion on foreign affairs at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed News. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the matter. Russia invaded and then annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, leading to widespread international condemnation and sanctions. The move also directly led to Russia being kicked out of the then-G8. Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s intervention in Crimea at the time, saying that he had the right to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine. During the dinner, Trump also seemed to question why the G7 leaders were siding with Ukraine. The president told leaders that “Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” the source said. It is unclear whether Trump’s comments were throwaway remarks said in jest, or whether he was signaling a radical departure from current US foreign policy. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. When asked about the president’s comments on Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing she couldn’t comment.