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Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador: Trump ‘highly unlikely’ to bend on Crimea in Putin meeting

July 15, 2018

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said Sunday that it is “highly unlikely” President Trump would back off condemnation of the annexation of Crimea in his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The agenda is the president’s. Everything will be his call. But I think it is highly unlikely that you’ll see any change in Crimea,” Mr. Huntsman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Trump, who is set to meet Monday with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland, raised doubts about his commitment to a NATO statement refusing to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

When asked Friday about relenting to Russia on the status of Crimea, Mr. Trump said, “We’ll see what happens” at the summit.

Mr. Huntsman, who is in Helsinki for the Trump-Putin powwow, said Russia’s takeover of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 is on the agenda.

“This was a violation of international law. What we’ve seen in eastern Ukraine is a violation of international law,” he said, referring to Russia’s involvement in ongoing fighting there. “We have some very real issues.”

Russian hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election would also be a top item on the agenda, the ambassador said.

However, Mr. Huntsman said he did not know if Mr. Trump would ask for the extradition of 12 Russian military intelligence officers who were indicted Friday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia interference probe.

“I don’t know if he’ll make the ask,” Mr. Huntsman said. “It may be part of the agenda. It may be part of their bilateral meeting together. We’ll have to see. It just came onto the agenda last Friday. It’s something that’s brand new.”

He said the indictment was not surprising.

“I don’t think the details are a surprise to folks who have followed this,” Mr. Huntsman said. “That now makes probably almost 30 Russians who have been rolled up by the Mueller indictment. That investigation continues. And I think the bigger picture is we need to hold the Russians accountable for what they did.”

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