President Trump again called for Russia to rejoin the group representing the countries with the largest advanced economies on Saturday, downplaying the country's invasion of Ukraine while simultaneously blaming former President Barack Obama for not standing up to the Russian aggression.
"This used to be the G8, not the G7," said Trump on Saturday morning at a press conference before he left the G7 meeting in Quebec. "Something happened a while ago where Russia is no longer in."
That "something" was Russia's invasion and annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014, which prompted international leaders to vote to remove Russia from the G8 as punishment.
When a reporter pointed that out on Saturday and asked whether Trump believed the US should now recognize Crimea as being part of Russia, the president replied that the invasion had happened during President Obama's time in office and therefore the former leader was responsible.
"You have to ask President Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away, that was during his administration," said Trump.
"Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea," he said.
Trump also indicated that if Russia had invaded Crimea while he was in power, it might have ended differently — although he did not specify how or why.
"I may have had a much different attitude," said Trump.
"With that being said, it's been done a long time," he said of an invasion that occurred less than four years ago.
Trump said he hadn't spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin in "quite a while."
He said the G7 countries had discussed the possible return of Russia, but no vote was held.
"I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it’d be good for Russia. I think it’d be good for the United States," said Trump, describing the G8 as more "meaningful" than the G7.
"We're looking for peace in the world. We're not looking to play games," he said.
Russia's return to the G8 is a topic Trump also had mentioned on Friday, moments before flying to Canada.
"Russia should be in this meeting," he told reporters. "Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?"
As part of the international condemnation of Russia's actions back in 2014, the then-leaders of the other G8 countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom — released a statement in March 2014, along with the European Council and the European Commission, to condemn "Russia's illegal attempt to annex Crimea in contravention of international law and specific international obligations."
"We will suspend our participation in the G8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion," continued the statement.
Amber Jamieson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Amber Jamieson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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