Former US President Donald Trump described Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis, as “wonderful” and a “genius” on Tuesday.
In an appearance on conservative podcaster Buck Sexton’s show, Trump said he backed Putin in his decision to send troops into Ukraine to support Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine, to perform “peacekeeping” duties.
“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen — and I said ‘this is genius,'” Trump, in an interview with Sexton, said. “Putin declares a big portion of the (sic) Ukraine … as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”
Russia-Ukraine crisis reaches a new milestone
Putin’s move is universally considered an assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“The announcement is a serious escalation that effectively kills the Minsk accords, which set out a series of military and political steps designed to resolve the status of the two breakaway regions and end the 8-year-old conflict there,” NPR explained.
Ukraine and most Western allies view Russia’s move to send troops to Ukraine as an occupation, which could lead to more conflict.
Trump was full of praise for Russia’s “peace force,” suggesting, “We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest ‘peace force’ I’ve ever seen,” he said. “They’re gonna keep the peace all right.”
Trump says Putin is “very savvy,” a “tough cookie”
Trump claimed that Putin was a “tough cookie” but was “very savvy,” adding that he had a “lot of great charm,” and loved his country. “I knew Putin very well. I got along with him. He liked me. I liked him,” he said.
Trump is a long-standing fan of the Russian president.
In 2013, Trump wondered on Twitter if Putin would attend his Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and whether the two would become “best friends,” but Putin did not show up.
In the years that followed, Trump repeatedly spoke highly of Putin’s strategic acumen, noting the strongman’s intention to “re-build the Russian Empire.” He defended Putin’s habit of killing dissidents and journalists, arguing that the US does it too.
In a 2017 interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Trump praised Putin. “But he’s a killer,” O’Reilly said. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump replied, asking rhetorically “You think our country’s so innocent?”
In a 2015 interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump also heaped praise on the Russian leader. “He’s running his country and, at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said. “I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
Once in office, Trump sided with Russia, who claimed to not have been involved in election interference, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
“They said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” he said. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.
“So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Biden’s response not up to Trump’s standards
Trump went on to criticize US President Biden for his lack of response to the crisis, claiming that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would not have happened when he was in office.
At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Trump’s comments.
“We try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy,” Psaki said, noting how Trump had sided with Russia when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula, another portion of Ukraine.
“So there’s a bit of a different tactic, a bit of a different approach, and that’s probably why President Biden and not his predecessor was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against Russia’s aggression,” she said.
The US imposed new economic sanctions on Tuesday.
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