Former President Donald Trump did what he does best on Tuesday afternoon: Heaping praise upon Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This time, the twice-impeached ex-president lauded the authoritarian leader’s “genius” invasion of Ukraine as “very savvy.”
Just ahead of President Joe Biden’s announcement that he will impose a round of “firm” economic sanctions against Russia for deploying military troops into Ukraine, Trump—who was impeached for withholding military aid as a way to pressure Kyiv to meddle in the 2020 election—claimed on right-wing talk radio that “this never would have happened” under his presidency.
“In the last 24 hours, we know Russia has said that they are recognizing two breakaway regions of Ukraine, and now this White House is stating that this is an ‘invasion.’ That’s a strong word,” The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show co-host Buck Sexton told Trump on Tuesday before asking: “What went wrong here? What has the current occupant of the Oval Office done that he could have done differently?”
Without skipping a beat, Trump—ever eager to tout the “Big Lie”—immediately declared that “what went wrong was a rigged election” and that Biden “shouldn’t be there.” He then openly cheered on Putin’s actions.
“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine... Putin declares it as independent,” Trump said. “Oh, that’s wonderful.”
Reiterating Putin’s declaration of separatist territories as “independent,” Trump then remarked “how smart is that” over the Russian president then labeling his invading military forces “peacekeepers.” He also quipped that the United States should take that stance when it comes to its border with Mexico.
“We could use that on our southern border,” Trump exclaimed. “That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep the peace all right.”
He continued of Putin: “Here’s a guy who’s very savvy. I know him very well. Very, very well.”
After insisting that Putin would have never made this move if he were still in office, calling it “not even thinkable,” Trump went right back to praising the “pretty savvy” Russian leader.
“And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response,” he added, ignoring the sanctions from the administration. “They didn’t have one for that.”
Though the former president and his loyalists continue to argue that Trump would have kept Putin from invading Ukraine, it was the then-president’s own team that said he “looked incredibly weak” after an obsequious Trump kowtowed to Putin during the 2018 Helsinki summit. Furthermore, before leaving office, Trump spent years weakening NATO and advocating for U.S. troop drawdowns in Europe.