President Donald Trump is repeating his claim that Russia was booted from the G-8 group of major industrial nations because former President Barack Obama was “outsmarted” by Russia when it illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
At a press conference in France on Monday, Trump said: “President Obama was pure and simply outsmarted. They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing. It could have been stopped, with the right, whatever, it could have been stopped.”
He added that he’d “most certainly” invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to the group’s next summit.
Trump did not describe how he thought Obama should have prevented the annexation of Crimea, but said that if it had happened under his watch, he would have admitted that he had made a mistake and apologized.
Of course, Trump is known for being defiantly unapologetic. He’s also known to have a penchant for insulting the intelligenceof Black people and women. Prior to his trip to France, Trump also said Obama “wanted Russia out” of the G-8 because Putin “outsmarted him,” suggesting the decision was solely motivated by ego.
In reality, a majority of G-8 member countries — not just the United States — decided to suspend Russia from the group in 2014 because it had violated international law barring the acquisition of another country’s territory through coercion or force.
“To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution,” Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the U.S. said in a 2014 statement. “We also strongly condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea in contravention of international law and specific international obligations.”
At the time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed Russia’s departure from the G-8 as no big deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting this year’s summit, has expressed support for Russia’s readmission to the multinational group, but only if it helps resolve the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Trump said Monday that he wasn’t sure whether Putin would accept an invitation to return to the group, suggesting the Russian leader also had a bruised ego.
“He’s a proud person. 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 said. “You have a G-8, now it’s a G-7, and you invite the person that was thrown out really by President Obama, and really because he got outsmarted.”