Ukraine could have avoided hundreds of thousands of deaths and lost less land if it had reached a peace deal with Russia before the conflict began last February, former US President Donald Trump told NBC News in an interview aired on Sunday.
The loss of Ukrainian territory to Russia is “something that could have been negotiated,” Trump told NBC host Kristen Welker, adding that “a lot of people expected” Kiev to abandon its claims to “Crimea and other parts of the country” in exchange for peace.
“So they could have made a deal where there’s less territory [lost] than Russia has already taken,” Trump continued. “They could have made a deal where nobody was killed…they would have had a Ukrainian country. Now nobody even knows if Ukraine is going to be totally taken over.”
By “other parts of the country,” Trump was likely referring to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, whose sovereignty Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized three days before Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began. Following referendums last September, both regions have now joined the Russian Federation, along with the formerly Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhye. Crimea voted to rejoin Russia in 2014.