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Donald Trump: I Have No Relationship With Putin, But He Said Nice Things About Me

Trump also doesn't appear to know that Russia already invaded Ukraine.

Posted on July 31, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. ET

Jason Connolly / AFP / Getty Images

In an interview on ABC's This Week on Sunday, Republican nominee Donald Trump denied, despite his own repeated claims, that he has a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump's praise of Putin has raised questions about his connections to the Russian president. Hillary Clinton's campaign and Democrats have tried to paint Trump as Putin's candidate of choice, and have implied that the Trump campaign could have played some role in Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee's servers.

"I have no relationship with Putin. I have no relationship with Putin," Trump said in the interview when asked about the nature of the relationship.

Anchor George Stephanopoulos pushed back, saying, "But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say, in 2013, 'I do have a relationship,' in 2014, 'I spoke...'"

"Because he has said nice things about me over the years," Trump responded. "I remember years ago, he said something, many years ago, he said something very nice about me."

Trump added that over the years, he has said nice things about Putin on television, and Putin has said nice things about him as well. When asked by Stephanopoulos why he would say he had no relationship with Putin after saying for years that he did, Trump answered that it depends on the meaning of "relationship."

"Well, I don't know what it means by having a relationship," Trump said. "I mean, he was saying very good things about me. But I don't have a relationship with him. I didn't meet him. I haven't spent time with him. I didn't have dinner with him. I didn't go hiking with him. I don't know, I wouldn't know him from Adam except I see his picture, and I would know what he looks like."

Trump was also asked about his position on the Russian annexation of Crimea and the change in the Republican platform striking any mention of arming Ukraine. Trump said he wasn't involved in his party's platform on Ukraine, but that he has his own ideas.

"He's not going into Ukraine, okay, just so you understand. He's not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down," Trump said. "You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want."

When Stephanopoulos pointed out that Russia is already in Ukraine, Trump said, "Well, he's there in a certain way. But I'm not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you're talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he's going away. He takes Crimea."

Trump, when pressed on his comments that he might recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, said, "I'm gonna take a look at it. But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.