Trump and Crimea: from Russia with Love
© Getty Images/Russia Today

I do not particularly care that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE personally admires Vladimir Putin. Everyone needs a role model. However, Mr. Trump's stunning naiveté of the crisis in Ukraine has allowed him to adopt policies that are so foreign they are almost Russian.

Mr. Trump has managed to say both "Crimea has been taken" and Putin is "not going into Ukraine." I will not attempt to untangle the contradictions contained therein, but I will point out for the Republican presidential nominee that Crimea is, in fact, Ukrainian territory. Either Mr. Trump's unnamed, unknown, unsourced foreign policy advisors are not serving him well or he has an agenda that does not include support for the people of Ukraine or the basic, long-held protection of the sovereign borders of Europe.

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He needs to know this, however:  the United States Government does not recognize the illegal and forcible annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, which mirrors the non-recognition policy the United States maintained for 50 years regarding the Soviet Union's illegal occupation of the Baltic States. The Baltic States are now free, independent countries and NATO Allies.

Mr. Trump's reckless statements threaten to undermine the bipartisan and international consensus that many of us have worked hard to establish in combatting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Not because he has a particularly compelling argument, but because through gross negligence he has been given a platform to spread his own brand of misinformation and mendacity.

The Obama Administration has demonstrated American resolve on this matter by establishing a Crimea-related sanctions regime and upholding a strict non-recognition policy towards Russian sovereignty over Crimea. U.S. diplomats have worked diligently to establish a consensus among our European allies, and in July, European Union Member States agreed unanimously to reauthorize their Crimea-related sanctions.  As a member of the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, I have worked with my Republican colleagues to ensure that this remains an explicit priority within NATO.

Even a hopelessly divided Capitol Hill has found common ground on Crimea. The Department of Defense authorization bill prohibits the use of funds from being used on any action that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea and Ukraine. Republican Rep. Steve Chabot and I authored this prohibition, which is based on our Crimea Annexation Non-recognition Act. Similar prohibitions have been included in successive omnibus spending bills.

In July, the House Foreign Affairs Committee amended the STAND for Ukraine Act by adopting my amendment to create only one condition under which the President can relax Crimea-related sanctions - the restoration of Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea.

Crimea was Russia's original violation in Ukraine, and we have limited credibility objecting to Russia's subsequent invasion of Luhansk and Donetsk if we do not take a stand on Crimea. Rejecting the Russian Federation's forcible and illegal attack on sovereign territory is so important we should be satisfied with nothing less than absolute clarity about our resolve to restore Ukrainian sovereignty.

Mr. Trump's campaign has had a lot of collateral damage. The inviolability of sovereign European borders should not be among the wreckage.

Connolly represents Virginia's 11th District and is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.