President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his illegal 2014 seizure of Crimea, a peninsula on the coast of Ukraine, at the 2019 G7 summit in France. Trump made the assertion that somehow former President Barack Obama was to blame.
Russia was booted from the G8—now the G7—as a result of Putin's illegal annexation, but now Trump, breaking with the other world leaders, wants to bring Putin back to the table.
Speaking to reporters, Trump said of Putin:
"Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come psychologically, I think that’s a tough thing for him to do."
He blamed Obama for Putin's seizure of the peninsula.
“President Obama was not happy that this happened and it was embarrassing to him, right? It was very embarrassing to him, and he wanted Russia to be out of what was called the G-8. That was his determination. He was outsmarted by Putin. President Putin outsmarted President Obama. I can understand how President Obama would feel, he wasn’t happy.”
The remarks came after PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump to elaborate on why he supports Russia retaking its seat at the table after meddling in the U.S. election.
He continued to blame Obama for the illegal annexation of Crimea, insisting that Obama could have prevented the seizure with "the right whatever."
Trump claims that other world leaders agree with him on readmitting Russia to the G7, but it's unclear to whom he's referring. French President Emmanuel Macron clarified that Trump could invite Putin to next year's G7 summit, but Russia actually joining the group of leaders would require unanimous agreement.
Trump had a "lively" discussion with other world leaders about inviting Putin to next year's summit.
It created lively discussion for Americans at home as well, who are taking the calls for Russia to rejoin as another instance of Trump's subservience to Putin and hatred for Obama.
Another striking reason for world leaders' refusal to readmit Putin, cited by Macron, is because of his efforts to interfere with the United States' democracy during the 2016 election, indicating to many that other world leaders care more about attacks on American democracy than the American president.
The G7 concluded yesterday.