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Trump vows Putin is ‘not going into Ukraine’ — two years after Russia annexed Crimea

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Donald Trump (Screenshot/ABC News)

In an interview with ABC News, which aired in full length Sunday morning, This Week host George Stephanopoulos grilled GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump over his relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Stephanopoulos pressed Trump over previous claims he had a relationship with Putin, which he now denies.

“Well, I don’t know what it means by having a relationship,” Trump said, according a transcript of the interview. “I mean, he was saying very good things about me. But I don’t have a relationship with him. I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t– go hiking with him. I don’t know– I– I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture, and I would know what he looks like.”

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MSNBC unearthed footage of an interview with Trump three years ago saying the opposite.

“I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today,” he had told host Thomas Roberts.

Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his foreign policy positions that, if elected, would serve in Putin’s interest, including softening the GOP’s platform toward Putin’s annexation of Crimea, which Ukraine still claims rights to.

The Trump campaign removed language promising to provide Ukraine with weapons necessary to defend itself against Russian advances.

“Yeah. I was not involved in that. I’d like to– I’d have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in it,” Trump responded. “They softened it, I heard. But I was not involved.”

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Stephanopoulos pointed out “they took away the part of the platform calling for provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Why is that a good idea?”

Trump then responded he “has his own ideas.”

“He’s not going into Ukraine, okay, just so you understand,” Trump responded. “He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”

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Stephanopoulos then pointed out that Putin is “already there” and noted Trump had said he’d consider recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea if he were elected president.

Trump said he’d “take a look at” the Russian take-over of Crimea but then made a pro-Kremlin talking point.

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“But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were,” Trump said. “And you have to look at that, also. Now, that was under– just so you understand, that was done under Obama’s administration.”

Watch the exchange, as posted to Twitter by ABC News, here:

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