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Trump’s Crimea stance shows US moving to mend ties with Russia — official

US Republican presidential candidate Trump said earlier that if elected, he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting sanctions against Russia

SIMFEROPOL, July 28. /TASS/. Republican nominee Donald Trump’s promise to recognize Crimea as part of Russia testifies to a drift towards mending ties with Russia in the US, Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov said on Thursday.

"Trump says only what his voters want to hear. This means there is a desire to improve ties with Russia in American society," Aksyonov wrote on Facebook.

However, at the moment Trump is only a presidential hopeful, while his speeches are part of election campaign rhetoric, Aksyonov said. "We don’t know how he will behave if he wins the election," he wrote.

"The Crimean people don’t need recognition from Western leaders. We have made our choice once and for all," he went on. "If part of the US political establishment, such as Trump, is ready to recognize the reality, we can only welcome this," he said.

On Wednesday, Trump told a news conference in Florida that if elected he would consider recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, as well as the lifting sanctions imposed against Russia over the developments in Ukraine.