Donald Trump declared on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos that Vladimir Putin has no intention of invading Ukraine while also distancing himself from the Republican platform changes softening their position on Ukraine.
"[Putin]'s not going to go into Ukraine. Just so you understand, he's not going to go into Ukraine," he insisted.
"You can mark it down, you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want," he added.
Stephanopoulos gently pointed out that Putin is already there.
"Well, he's there in a certain way but I'm not there, you have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama. With all of the strength that you're talking about, and all of the power of NATO," Trump replied.
After being pinned by Stephanopoulous on that, Trump retreated to his default stance of saying he would "take a look at that." He then went on to say that his understanding is that the people of Crimea want to be annexed by Russia.
He then blamed President Obama and NATO for Russia's presence in NATO that he had just denied.
It is absolutely remarkable to see a candidate for the office of President of the United States fail to understand what has already happened in Ukraine and simply deny that it has happened at all, while declaring that he would be the candidate who would "clean up the mess."
The Trump campaign is an utter train wreck. I don't see how people can look at these ridiculous claims and his obvious ties to Putin and think he is worthy of their vote.
Here's the Republican response from Katie Packer, who is a Republican strategist:
This is unreal. The Republican nominee. No clue about what's happening in Russia. Un. Real. https://t.co/JljR7sRmmQ
— Katie Packer (@katiepack) July 31, 2016
Clinton's senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan (who worked with her at State) issued the following statement:
"Today, Donald Trump was asked about Vladimir Putin and Ukraine. Here is what he said:↓ Story continues below ↓
'He's not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He's not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.'
What is he talking about? Russia is already in Ukraine. Does he not know that? What else doesn’t he know?
While Trump hasn’t mastered basic facts about the world, he has mastered Putin’s talking points on Crimea (which, of course, the United States and most of the world still recognizes as part of Ukraine). Today, he gamely repeated Putin’s argument that Russia was justified in seizing the sovereign territory of another country by force.
This is scary stuff. But it shouldn’t surprise us. This comes on the heels of his tacit invitation to the Russians to invade our NATO allies in Eastern Europe.
And it’s yet more proof why Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be Commander in Chief."