Donald Trump Says Ukraine Crisis Reflects Obama’s Weakness

KIEV, Ukraine -- Donald J. Trump made a brief, unusual foray into foreign affairs on Friday, appearing at a conference here via a video link to suggest that the Ukraine crisis was rooted in weakness on the part of President Obama.

Donald J. Trump, arriving for an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon on Friday, spoke earlier in the day to a conference in Ukraine via a video link.

Mr. Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, made two main points, both of which he repeated during about 20 minutes of questions and answers.

Germany and the rest of Europe needed to do more for Ukraine, he said, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia felt free to invade because he lacked respect for President Obama.

“Whether it is Germany or other countries, I don’t think you are getting the support that you need,” Mr. Trump said to mild applause.

“Our president is not strong — so far all we have is lip service,” he added.

“Part of the problem that Ukraine has with the United States is that Putin does not respect our president whatsoever.”

Mr. Trump continually lavished praise on the Ukrainians, in particular his fellow billionaire Viktor M. Pinchuk, who had invited Mr. Trump to speak at his annual YES conference here.

The two-day meeting gathers businessmen, politicians, academics and senior government officials mainly from Europe and the United States to focus on domestic and foreign policy issues in Ukraine. 

“It is amazing what you have had to endure, you have had to endure a tremendous amount, and I just think it is all going to work out well in the future for the Ukraine,” Mr. Trump said, speaking from Trump Tower, with a window view of Central Park spread out behind him.

Mr. Trump did not win over the entire audience.

First, he kept referring to the country as “the Ukraine” which patriotic locals find demeaning since they view it as a Soviet formula.

They use just “Ukraine.”

Second, they would have preferred a more substantial outline of how the United States could further help the country, rather than what some considered platitudes about its future.

(Other foreign speakers gave Mr. Trump some tough competition on that score, with former President Shimon Peres of Israel saying at the conference, “Don’t be depressed; a crisis is not permanent.”)

The American moderator, Douglas Schoen, a Washington political analyst and Fox News commentator, did not press Mr. Trump, instead praising his record as a businessman and a candidate. 

“I am a little bit concerned whether Trump can find Ukraine on the map,” said Oleksandr Bohutskyy, the president of ICTV, an independent Ukrainian television channel.

“The most important question for any American presidential candidate is how will you help Ukraine, and he did not say anything about that.”

Source: First Draft