Trump blames Obama, not Putin, for Russia seizing Crimea
Senior Writer,•President Trump blames Obama for Russia illegally annexing Crimea President Trump blamed the last U.S. president for Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, praising President Vladimir Putin for outsmarting President Obama and saying he thought Russia should be welcomed back into the annual meeting of the leaders of the world’s largest economic powers.Speaking in France at the G-7 conference, Trump repeatedly expressed his disagreement with the decision to suspend Russia’s membership in what was then called the G-8 over its seizure of the crucial peninsula of Crimea from the Ukraine. He claimed that Obama was “embarrassed” and “outsmarted by Putin.”“Would I invite [Putin]? I would certainly invite him,” Trump said, in answer to a question about next year’s meeting, which will be hosted by the U.S. But he expressed concern that the Russian president’s feelings were hurt by the earlier expulsion. “Whether or not he could come psychologically, I think that’s a tough thing for him to do.” The Guardian reported Sunday that Trump’s suggestion that Russia be readmitted to the G-7 was not supported by the other world leaders in attendance.“It was sort of taken away from President Obama, not taken away from President Trump,” the president explained. “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.”Trump had previously sided with Putin against U.S. intelligence agencies at a 2018 meeting in Helsinki. He didn’t answer a question Monday about possible Russian meddling in the next presidential election.President Trump speaks during the G-7 summit on Monday in Biarritz, France. (Photo: Francois Mori/AP)A reporter pressed Trump on his assertion that Obama was behind Russia’s departure from the G-8. Its annexation of Crimea in violation of international law resulted in sanctions by both the United States and the European Union, and a condemnation from NATO, which said in a statement, “We strongly condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognize.” On the fifth anniversary of Russia’s takeover in March, EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini said, “We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”“It was annexed during President Obama’s term. If it was annexed during my term, I would say, ‘Sorry, folks, I made a mistake’ or ‘Sorry, folks,’” said Trump, adding, “President Obama was pure and simply outsmarted. They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing. It could have been stopped. It could have been stopped with the right… whatever. It could have been stopped, but President Obama was unable to stop it and it’s too bad.”Trump did not complete his thought about how Russia could have been stopped from the land grab.Crimea is a roughly 10,000-square-mile peninsula across the Black Sea from Russia that was transferred to the Ukraine in 1954. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the land was part of an independent Ukraine. Russian troops entered the area in February 2014, and the other G-8 members agreed a month later to suspend Russia’s membership while canceling a planned summit in Sochi, Russia.As a candidate in 2016, Trump said he was open to recognizing Russia’s claims to Crimea. “I’m going to take a look at it,” Trump said. “But you know, 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.”The president said he didn’t care if inviting Russia to an international summit on U.S. soil would hurt him politically.“I ran one election and I won, happened to be for president,” said Trump. “I don’t care politically. I’m going to run another election, I think I’m winning based on polls that we see. Whether I win or not, I have to do the right thing. I don’t do things for political reasons. Is it good? Probably not. Maybe it is, a lot of people are smart.”Trump also criticized Obama for not striking Syria when the country crossed his established “red line” and used chemical weapons.
President Trump called himself “an environmentalist” while boasting about American oil and gas production at the G-7 summit in France on Monday. His answer came in response to a question about whether he believes in the reality of climate change, which he has previously described as a hoax.
He didn’t answer the question.
“In a nutshell, I want the cleanest water on earth. I want the cleanest air on earth,” Trump said at the end of a press conference before leaving the stage. “I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that. I’ve done more environmental impact statements … than anybody that’s ever been president or vice president or anything even close to president.”
Environmental impact statements are required for most large development projects, such as building golf courses.Frequently, the president has falsely claimed the United States has the cleanest air and water on earth, which conflates traditional measures of pollution with greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of global warming.
“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth, the wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive,” he said. “I’m not gonna lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills, which frankly aren’t working too well.”
Trump boasted about opening up the previously untouched Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling after decades of political controversy.
With over half of the world’s new oil and gas pipelines located in North America, more drilling could “deliver a major blow to efforts to slow climate change,” the Guardian reported earlier this year, citing a recent Global Energy Monitor report.
“I think I know more about the environment than most people,” said Trump, who in 2017 announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement to globally reduce greenhouse gas emissions and was the only world leader who did not appear at the G-7 meeting on climate change over the weekend.
Last year, the world’s leading climate scientists released a report for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning that globally, humans have until 2030 to cut carbon pollution and avoid the damaging effects of global warming like rising water levels and devastating storms.
Meanwhile, Trump has suggested that “we nuke” hurricanes headed toward the U.S.
“I want clear air. I want clean water. I want a wealthy country. I want a spectacular country with jobs, with pensions, with so many things,” Trump said.
But, he continued, “at the same time, it’s very important to me we have to maintain this incredible place that we’ve all built. We’ve become a much richer country. And that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, because that great wealth allows us to take care of people. We can take care of people that we couldn’t have taken care in the past.“We can’t let that great wealth be taken away,” Trump added.
Trump pitches his country club for G-7 meeting but claims he’s losing money as president
In what amounted to a prolonged advertisement for his golf resort, Trump then went on to gush about why Doral is the ideal venue for the next G-7 gathering, which the U.S. is scheduled to host.
“Doral happens to be within Miami. It’s a city. It’s a wonderful place. It’s a very, very successful area of Florida. It’s, very importantly, only five minutes from the airport. The airport’s right next door. It’s a big international airport, one of the biggest in the world. Everybody that’s coming, all of these people with all of their big entourages come. It’s set up so, and by the way my people looked at 12 sites, all good, but some were two hours from an airport, some were four hours, I mean, they were so far away,” Trump said. “Some didn’t allow this, some didn’t allow that. With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows. They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms with incredible restaurants, it’s like such a natural.”Trump had been asked whether the plan to hold the 2020 G-7 meeting at one of his personally owned resorts presented a conflict of interest, but the president assured reporters that he was “not going to make any money.”
“And we have many hundreds of acres, so that in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need, the ballrooms are the biggest in Florida and the best. It’s brand new, and my people wanted it. From my standpoint, I’m not going to make any money. In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money. I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money. If I cared about making money I wouldn’t worry about $3 to $5 billion, because that’s what, at some point I’m going to detail that and we’ll show, but I think it’s just a great place to be.”
At a campaign rally earlier in August, Trump also claimed that his personal fortune had declined by $3 billion to $5 billion since he took office. A fact check conducted by Forbes called that notion “absurd” and noted that his entire net worth was almost certainly lower than $5 billion.
Trump has written down his overall net worth, but most of the $1.4 billion in losses stem from correcting his own past reporting of his assets.
A full accounting of the president’s business income and losses remains elusive because Trump, citing an IRS audit, has gone back on his promise to release his tax returns. House Democrats continue to pursue legal challenges to obtain his returns.
Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who has kept tabs on the Trump Organization finances, pointed out Monday that proving the president’s claim of business losses was a fairly straightforward matter.
Notably, one property that has reportedly suffered from its association with the Trump name has been Doral, which relies on a foreign clientele that has been put off by the president’s brand of politics, according to Forbes.
Trump’s plan to hold convene the 2020 G-7 meeting at his private club quickly drew opposition in Washington.
„Under no circumstances should the G-7 be held at Trump’s Doral resort, which would be one of the most egregious examples of corruption and self-dealing in a presidency replete with them,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Monday. Trump is using the office to line his own pockets.”
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif kicked off his Asian tour in Beijing Monday, presenting a 25-year plan to cement Iran’s ties with its biggest Asian trading partner amid biting US sanctions.
Zarif’s Asian tour — which also includes stopovers in Japan and Malaysia — comes fresh on the heels of a surprise visit to the G7 summit in France over the weekend.
The summit in Biarritz saw a dramatic shift of focus when Zarif flew in at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the diplomatic deadlock on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Iran’s top diplomat didn’t meet US President Donald Trump, French diplomats said, but the presence of the two men in the same place at least sparked hopes of detente.
Zarif was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran, the United States, European powers, Russia and China.
In Beijing, Zarif met with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and said the pair had discussed a 25-year road map to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.
China has continued to purchase Iranian crude despite sanctions.
„We reject actions of interference by others in the affairs of progressive countries including Iran and China,” China’s foreign minister told reporters after the meeting with Zarif.
„We have stood together in dealing with these interventions and interferences and rejecting them as a major threat to international peace and security and friendly relations among countries.”
Trump’s policy of applying „maximum pressure” on Tehran via crippling sanctions has been criticised by European powers and China and is seen as raising the risk of conflict in the Middle East.
In July, the US government imposed heavy sanctions seeking to hamper Zarif’s travel, and effectively banning him from the United States.
Zarif tweeted that he was heading to Japan and Malaysia in the next leg of his Asian tour without offering details.
Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed a sexist Facebook post about France’s first lady Brigitte Macron Sunday, the latest chapter in an escalating war of words between him and his French counterpart over the Amazon crisis.
Emmanuel Macron had called for emergency talks by G7 nations on the fires destroying chunks of the Amazon rainforest, piling pressure on Bolsonaro, who in turn accused him of having a „colonialist mentality”.
On Sunday, a Bolsonaro supporter posted a meme mocking the appearance of Brigitte Macron and comparing her unfavourably with Brazil’s first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, with the tagline: „Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?”
The far-right Brazilian leader replied: „Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha,” referring to Macron.
Asked by AFP whether the response came from Bolsonaro himself, a spokesman for Brazil’s presidential palace refused to comment.
The fires across the world’s largest rainforest, which experts have blamed on rampant deforestation, have triggered a global outcry — with European nations leading the charge against Bolsonaro, who has made no secret of his skepticism about climate change.
The row has seen Brazilian politicians — including Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo — take potshots at Macron, with education minister Abraham Weintraub calling him „an opportunist idiot” and „a president without character” in a flurry of tweets Sunday.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is tipped to be the next ambassador to Washington, on Friday retweeted a video showing violent yellow-vest protests in France headlined „Macron is an idiot”, calling it „a message” to the French leader.
Macron has accused Bolsonaro of lying about a June pledge to fight global warming and threatened to block efforts to seal a major trade deal between the EU and South America’s Mercosur nations over the Amazon crisis.
Ties between Brazil and France have plunged since Bolsonaro’s election. Last month the Brazilian leader snubbed France’s top diplomat by cancelling their meeting and getting a haircut instead, which he broadcast live on Facebook.
Jean-Yves Le Drian had angered Bolsonaro by meeting with non-profits which have been critical of the South American leader.
Last week Bolsonaro accused non-profit organizations of deliberately starting the fires after their funding was cut.
Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani came out strongly in favour of talks Monday as his top diplomat came under fire from ultra-conservative media for a surprise visit to a G7 summit.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew in to the French seaside resort of Biarritz on Sunday for meetings on the sidelines of the G7 gathering.
„I believe that for our country’s national interests we must use any tool,” Rouhani said in a speech aired live on state television.
„And if I knew that I was going to have a meeting with someone that would (lead to) prosperity for my country and people’s problems would be resolved, I would not hesitate.
„The main thing is our country’s national interests,” he said to a round of applause from those gathered at an event marking government achievements in rural areas.
Rouhani’s remarks came as his government faced criticism over Zarif’s visit to Biarritz at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron has been leading diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions between Iran and its arch-enemy the United States.
Iran’s economy has been battered by US sanctions imposed since last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic republic and world powers.
The ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper strongly criticised Zarif’s visit on Monday in an article that called the trip „improper”.
Kayhan said the fact that the minister’s visit was the second to France in a matter of days sent „a message of weakness and desperation”.
„These improper measures are taken in the fantasy of an opening but it will definitely have no outcome other than more insolence and pressure,” it added.
– ‘Weakness and desperation’ –
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps also criticised engagement with Iran’s foes.
Their „hostility and confrontation with the Islamic Revolution is endless and it cannot be resolved or reconciled through negotiation and dialogue,” said Abdollah Haji-Sadeghi.
„We should not expect anything else but aggression, attacks, sedition and hostility” from the enemy, he was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
The reformist Etemad newspaper, however, described Zarif’s trip to France as „the most hopeful moment” for Iran in the 15 months since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal.
„Given Macron’s attempts over the last two months, one can be hopeful that Trump’s response to Macron’s ideas has been the main reason for Zarif’s… trip to Biarritz,” it said.
The spike in tensions between Iran and the United States has threatened to spiral out of control in the past few weeks, with ships mysteriously attacked, drones downed and tankers seized.
Rouhani said his government was ready to use „both hands” of power and diplomacy.
„They may seize our ship somewhere… we will both negotiate… and we may seize their ship for legal reasons,” he said, referring to an Iranian oil tanker seized off Gibraltar that has since been released and a British-flagged vessel still impounded by Iran in the Gulf.
„We can work with two hands… the hand of power and the hand of diplomacy,” said the Iranian president.
„We must use both our power, our military and security power, economic and cultural power and our political power. We must negotiate. We must find solutions. We must reduce problems.
„Even if the probability of success… is 10 percent, we must endeavour and go ahead. We must not lose opportunities.”
BERLIN, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Prosecutors are considering the possibility of a political motive behind the killing on Friday of an ethnic Chechen exile in Berlin, allegedly by a Russian citizen who shot the victim twice in the head as he walked through a park.
The victim, 40, was identified by Georgian human rights organisation EMC as Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, which described him as an ethnic Chechen citizen of Georgia, who had fought on the side of rebels who in the 1990s sought to free Chechnya from Moscow’s control.
„We have no evidence pointing towards a classic criminal motive,” said Martin Steltner, spokesman for Berlin prosecutors on Monday, adding that they were considering the possibility of a political motive for the killing.
Steltner said the suspect had been caught as he sought to dispose of the presumptive murder weapon in the nearby Spree River, along with the bicycle he had been riding. The Russian citizen had so far exercised his right to remain silent.
In its statement, EMC said that Khangoshvili had left Georgia and sought asylum in Germany after surviving an assassination attempt in Tbilisi in 2015.
Russia fought major campaigns against separatists in 1994-96 and 1999-2000 in Chechnya, a province located in the Caucasus Mountains on Russia’s border with Georgia. Many anti-Moscow fighters from those wars now live in exile and are at odds with the pro-Russian authorities in Chechnya.
Germany’s capital has increasingly become home to dissidents and opposition figures who fear for their safety in their home countries.
In 2017, an exiled Vietnamese former government official was kidnapped in a Berlin park and smuggled back to Vietnam in a case that strained ties between the two countries. (Reporting by Reuters TV, Marta Ardashelia in Tbilisi and Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow Writing by Thomas Escritt Editing by Peter Graff)