Faced with a flurry of media reports scrutinizing contacts between the Trump Administration and the Russian government, President Trump continues to ratchet up rhetoric surrounding the status of the Crimean Peninsula, today claiming in a Tweet Russia had taken Crimea from Ukraine by force, and faulting Obama for not doing anything about it.
This follows up on comments from the White House yesterday, in which Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed President Trump “expects” Russia to unconditionally return Crimea to Ukrainian control, adding that he still expects to get along with Russia.
Crimea was part of Ukraine as an “autonomous Republic” until 2014, when following protester-imposed regime change in Kiev they had a referendum to secede from Ukraine, and within a matter of days gained accession into the Russian Federation.
Russia did technically take Crimea by force, in 1783, when they annexed the Crimean Khanate. By 2014, however, Crimea’s population was majority Russian, and the secession vote was not close, though the US did not recognize it as a legal vote.
Russian Foreign Ministry officials responded to the recent Trump comments by insisting they have no intention of giving Crimea to the Ukraine, saying “we don’t give back our own territory.“