As President Biden introduced sanctions in opposition to Russia and warned of extra if President Vladimir V. Putin didn’t withdraw his forces from Ukraine, former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday praised Mr. Putin’s aggression as “genius” and referred to as the Russian chief “very savvy” for describing the troops aligned on the Ukrainian border as peacekeepers.
Mr. Trump’s reward for a overseas adversary in a geopolitical confrontation with a sitting United States president was extraordinary for any former president, even one with a protracted historical past of cozying as much as Mr. Putin, courting to his first presidential marketing campaign.
In July 2016, Mr. Trump instantly appealed to the Russians to hack the emails of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and make them public, the identical day that the Russians made their first effort to interrupt into the servers utilized by Mrs. Clinton’s private workplace.
As soon as elected, Mr. Trump broke with many years of American precedent and repeatedly confirmed uncommon deference towards Russia and expressed admiration for Mr. Putin, amongst different strongman leaders.
Weeks after taking workplace, Mr. Trump brushed apart Mr. Putin’s human rights transgressions throughout an interview with Invoice O’Reilly, then of Fox Information.
“You bought lots of killers,” he mentioned. “What, you suppose our nation’s so harmless?”
In 2018, Mr. Trump stood alongside Mr. Putin on the finish of a summit assembly in Helsinki, Finland, and publicly challenged the conclusion of his personal intelligence businesses that Moscow had interfered within the 2016 election, an infinite demonstration of belief in a pacesetter accused of attacking American democracy.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump additionally ridiculed President Biden and accused him of failing to deal with Mr. Putin’s recognition late Monday of two Russia-backed separatist territories in Ukraine as impartial republics, saying, “There was no response,” and calling this “very unhappy.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks have been broadcast on a conservative discuss radio present hosted by Clay Travis and Buck Sexton across the identical time that Mr. Biden addressed the nation and introduced a primary set of sanctions in opposition to Russia.
Mr. Trump made no point out on the radio present of his impeachment in 2019 for a strain marketing campaign on Ukraine to incriminate Mr. Biden and help his personal re-election marketing campaign, a cost he was acquitted of within the Republican-controlled Senate.
“Putin is now saying, ‘It’s impartial,’ a big part of Ukraine. I mentioned, ‘How good is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “That’s the strongest peace drive I’ve ever seen. There have been extra military tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to maintain peace, all proper. No, however consider it. Right here’s a man who’s very savvy.”
Since Mr. Trump left workplace, Republicans have break up on how to reply to Russian aggression. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others have referred to as for harsh sanctions in opposition to Russia, whereas Trump supporters such because the Fox Information host Tucker Carlson and J.D. Vance, a Senate candidate in Ohio, have argued that the US mustn’t punish Russia.
In a press release launched Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump mentioned the Russian aggression towards Ukraine wouldn’t have occurred if he have been nonetheless president.
In the course of the radio interview, Mr. Trump mentioned he and Mr. Putin had mentioned a possible invasion of Ukraine when Mr. Trump was within the White Home. “I knew that he all the time wished Ukraine. I used to speak to him about it,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “I mentioned, ‘You possibly can’t do it. You’re not going to do it.’ However I might see that he wished it. I used to ask him. We used to speak about it at size.”