While most lawmakers in the US, Europe and beyond have condemned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for his latest moves in Ukraine, one senior figure has been very silent in his criticism.
In fact, former President Donald Trump yesterday went so far as to herald Putin’s “genius” move.
On Monday, Putin signed a decree stating Russia recognized parts of Ukraine, the Donbas territories of Luhansk and Donetsk, as independent states. In doing so, he tore up a peace accord with Ukraine. It’s believed he’s now moved Russian forces into these territories, claiming they are going there in a “peacemaking” capacity.
This claim has been denounced as “nonsense” by the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. President Biden yesterday called it the beginning of Putin’s “invasion of Ukraine.”
However, Trump, in an interview on The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, said Putin’s recognition of the breakaway was “smart” and “pretty savvy.”
“I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen,” said Trump, “and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”
“I said, ‘How smart is that?’ He’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force. We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right.”
Trump went on to claim the situation would never have happened if he was still in office, again repeating the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
“It never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable,” Trump said. “You know what the response was from Biden? He didn’t have a response.”
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) February 22, 2022
The Biden administration has slapped Russia with a range of sanctions and says more are ready should Putin push further into Ukraine.
Many observers believe Putin will use any action from Ukraine to launch an all-out invasion, with the intent of taking the capital city, Kyiv.
Earlier this week, the US said it had “credible information” that Russia had lists of Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps in the event of occupation. This includes political opponents of Putin, Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, as well as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQ people.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was dismissive of Trump’s comments. When asked about them during a press conference, she said, “Well, as a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin.”
Psaki on Trump praising Putin’s moves into Ukraine: “Well, as a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin.” pic.twitter.com/LIjOzcZiG2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 22, 2022
They also prompted a withering comment from Trump’s niece, psychotherapist Mary L. Trump. She posted a photo of a smiling Putin standing next to a shorter, downcast Trump, taken during their face-to-face meeting in July 2018. She captioned it, “If you want to know what weakness looks like.”
If you want to know what weakness looks like: pic.twitter.com/sIH1OXxkRZ
— Mary L Trump (@MaryLTrump) February 23, 2022
Her tweet has had over 33k likes and hundreds of retweets.
Trump’s comments also lead to the hashtag, #TraitorTrump trending on Twitter.
Liz Cheney: “Former President Trump’s adulation of Putin today – including calling him a “genius” – aids our enemies.
Trump’s interests don’t seem to align with the interests of the United States of America.”#TraitorTrump
— Republicans against Trumpism (@RpsAgainstTrump) February 23, 2022
When you side with the Kremlin, you’ve sorta said all you have to say, haven’t you? There’s no gray area there, no red, white and blue veneer of patriotism that can make this right, no star-spangled distraction to parade in front of it all.#TraitorTrump https://t.co/0ottnlsjf6
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) February 23, 2022
It’s no surprise Trump is rooting for Putin.
Everyone is saying he’s been on Russia’s payroll for years. #TraitorTrump
— Chris Hahn (@ChristopherHahn) February 22, 2022
Imagine if Biden said the exact same thing Trump did today about Putin? The GOP would be going absolutely crazy right now. #TraitorTrump
— Tim Hannan (@TimHannan) February 23, 2022
If I were Putin, I’d be a little worried that Trump thinks my invasion plan is “genius.”
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) February 23, 2022