March, 2014: “[The invasion of Crimea] should have never happened. It should have never happened. If you’re the president that doesn’t happen. . . . with that being said, it’s their next door neighbor. It’s like us coming in and stopping us from doing something with Mexico . . . but we should definitely be strong. We should definitely do sanctions, and we have to show some strength. I mean, Putin has eaten Obama’s lunch, and therefore our lunch, for a long period of time.”
July 31, 2015: “I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin.”
August, 2015: “This [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] is Europe’s problem much more so than ours. Okay? And Europe isn’t complaining as much as we are. But this is more of a Europe problem, and if Europe comes to us and says ‘We want your help. We want your help.’ but they’re not really doing that. They’re dealing with Russia. They’re taking in the gas. They’re taking in the oil. They’re not really doing that [pressuring Russia]. We’re making a big deal out of it, but why isn’t Germany leading this one. You know, Germany is a very rich, very powerful nation. Why are they dealing on it moreso.”
“I don’t think that the Ukraine is given the proper respect from other parts of Europe. And this is the respect that the Ukraine absolutely deserves, and they’ve proven this over the years, over many years. It’s a respect that they absolutely deserve. So whether it’s Germany or other of the countries, I don’t think you’re getting the support that you need. The United States has been supportive, but more verbally than anything else. Our president is not strong. And he is not doing what he should be doing for the Ukraine. So far we have all lip service [talk] . . . and nothing else. Part of the problem that Ukraine has with the United States is that Putin does not respect our president whatsoever. . . . It is a big problem. And it is a problem that’s taking place all over the world.”
“I think Ukraine’s a wonderful place. I’ve been there and I think it’s great. . . But Germany and all these countries should be doing something. Why is it always us? What do we have to do with Ukraine? It’s wonderful. We have NATO, we’re going to work with them. . . . why is it always the United States that has to go and be the policeman of the world?”
October 31, 2015: “I’d get along with Russia, and I’d get along with Putin, and he’s not going to make us look bad anymore.”
December 18, 2015: “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”
[Told by journalist that Putin kills journalists and political opponents.]
“Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe,” Trump said. ”There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on and a lot of stupidity and that’s the way it is.”
[Journalist: “I’m confused. So you obviously condemn Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?]
“Oh sure, absolutely.
December 20, 2015: [Confronted about his statement from two days earlier.]
“Does he know for a fact [that Putin kills journalists]? It’s possible that he does. I don’t think it’s been proven. . . . Sure, there are allegations. I have read those allegations over the years. But nobody’s proven that he’s killed anybody . . . If he has killed reporters, that’s terrible. He’s always denied it. He’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty at least in our country.”
February 2, 2016:
“Putin, he said ‘Donald Trump is a genius, and he’s the real leader over in that country.’ And these people who are always on the stage with me, say ‘You should disavow what Putin of Russia said.’ I said, ‘I’m not disavowing that he called me a genius. Are you crazy?’ . . . Don’t worry, I can’t be seduced. But wouldn’t it be nice, if you think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?”
March, 2016: A new advertisement for the Trump campaign portrays Putin along with radical Islam as America’s toughest adversaries. The ad is criticized by the Kremlin.