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Trump says would be ‘great thing’ for Russia, Ukraine to reconcile

President Donald Trump meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 7, 2017. (Kremlin/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would like to see rivals Russia and Ukraine mend ties in their ongoing geopolitical feud, which includes accusations by Kyiv that Moscow is fomenting a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine by leading, supplying, and fighting alongside proxy forces.

“Well, I’d like to see them come together. I think if they came together in the sense that they got along with each other, that would be a great thing,” he told reporters on February 23 before departing on Marine Force One for his maiden voyage to India.

A reporter had asked Trump to comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent accusations that other countries are trying split neighbors Russia and Ukraine apart, saying the two predominantly Slavic and Orthodox Christian countries would be a world superpower if they came together.

In response, Trump added that “it would be a great thing for the world…. If Ukraine and Russia could work out some agreement where they get along, to me that would be very good.”

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About 7 percent of Ukraine’s territory has remained beyond Kyiv’s control since 2014 when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and subsequently backed separatists in the two easternmost Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in the war and an additional 1.5 million people have been internally displaced.

Russia denies being a party to the Donbas conflict and insists it is a civil war.

Kyiv has accused Russia of trying to further destabilize the country by sowing discord through propaganda and disinformation, frequent cyberattacks, and using energy as a coercive tool.

Both countries are embroiled in several international lawsuits related to debt, trade, and seized assets.