In an interview conducted by the journalist of the ABC American network, George Stephanopoulos, then-presidential candidate to the US presidency, Donald Trump, was confronted to answer about his possible personal relationship with Vladimir Putin and how he intended to react to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and to the following crisis. The interview was held in July 2016 and caused much controversy mainly over Trump´s responses on Ukraine.
In the book Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War, by British journalist and internation editor of The Sunday Times, Peter Conradi, there´s one paragraph where the author sums up the Trump´s responses on the issue:
"Doubts about Trump were fulled by a curious television interview in July 2016 in which Trump declared of Putin: 'He´s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He´s not going to go into Ukraine, all right?' Asked by ABC´s George Stephanopoulos if the realised Putin as 'there already', Trmup retorted, 'OK - well, he´s there in a certain way.' More significant was Trump´s vow to 'take a look' ate recognising Russia´s seizure of Crimea. 'You know, the people of Crime, from what I´ve heard, would rather be with Russia then where they were,' he said. Trump attempted to clarify his position on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in a series of tweets the following morning, after he was criticised fo his muddled response, but did not retract his thoughts about Crimea." (p. 316-317)
Trump was also asked why he softened the Republican Party´s official policy on Ukraine, reffering to the discussion on aid to the country with letal weapons in the war against pro-Russian separatists. The candidate retorted several times that he "wasnt´s involved" in this decision and that only knew this softening. His promisse was to "take a look" in it´s content. The issue came to light recently when one of the Republican National Convention members said Trump was in the event and that would have asked the party not to play the US in a "Third World War" in a dispute over Ukraine. This softening would also be a way for aligning the party with the candidate´s proposal to ease tensions with Russia.
The Trump government is just at the beggining and it´s still early to say how it will deal with Russia in the long term and how Ukraine will fit into this equation.