‘I thought Putin was NEGOTIATING when he sent troops to the border’: Trump admits he misread Kremlin leader, was ‘surprised’ by invasion of Ukraine, and claims under-fire Russian president is ‘very much changed’
- Donald Trump said during an interview Tuesday that he misread Vladimir Putin’s intentions when the Kremlin leader sent troops to the Ukraine border
- Trump admitted he believed Putin was trying to ‘negotiate’ and claims he was ‘surprised’ when the Russian president actually invaded Ukraine
- He also said Putin has ‘very much changed’ since he was in office and claims Russia wouldn’t have invaded if he were still president
- Trump has faced criticisms over his relationship with Putin and most recently for failing to criticize him in wake of the invasion
- Republican leaders, including Mike Pence and Robert O’Brien, have denounced Putin and said there is no room for his sympathizers in the party
- Similarly, Democrat President Joe Biden called Putin a ‘tyrant’ and responded to his invasion with responded with diplomatic and economic sanctions
Former President Donald Trump admitted he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was only trying to ‘negotiate’ when he sent troops to the Ukraine border and was ‘surprised’ when the Kremlin leader actually invaded the country.
‘I’m surprised — I’m surprised. I thought he was negotiating when he sent his troops to the border. I thought he was negotiating,’ Trump told the Washington Examiner during a Tuesday evening phone interview from his Mar-a-Lago estate. ‘I thought it was a tough way to negotiate but a smart way to negotiate.’
Trump, who seemingly developed a close working relationship with Moscow during his presidency, said Putin has ‘very much changed’ since the pair last worked together.
‘I figured he was going to make a good deal like everybody else does with the United States and the other people they tend to deal with — you know, like every trade deal. We’ve never made a good trade deal until I came along,’ Trump said. ‘And then he went in — and I think he’s changed. I think he’s changed. It’s a very sad thing for the world. He’s very much changed.’
The former American president has faced criticisms over his relationship with Putin and most recently for failing to criticize him in wake of the invasion.
Trump’s fellow Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former White House national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, have publicly denounced the Kremlin leader and said there would be no pity for Putin sympathizers in their party.
Similarly, Democrat President Joe Biden called Putin a ‘tyrant’ and responded to his invasion with responded with diplomatic and economic sanctions.
Former President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday that he misread Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions and said he was ‘surprised’ by the invasion of Ukraine
The ex-president claimed Putin (pictured last Thursday) has ‘very much changed’ since Trump was in office and argued that Moscow never would’ve invaded Ukraine if he was still in office
Trump on Tuesday rejected the notion that he was soft on the Russian leader and argued that Moscow never would’ve invaded Ukraine if he was still in office.
‘I’ve been very, very tough on Putin. I get a bad rap on that,’ Trump told the news outlet. ‘At the same time, I got along with him very well. But I got along with most [world leaders] very well.’
The billionaire ex-president also argued that he often pushed against Putin’s agendas while he was in office.
‘When you think of it, who was tougher on Russia than me?’ Trump asked, before adding: ‘I got billions and billions of dollars’ for NATO.
‘Now, all that money is going against Russia, so I did that. I closed the pipeline. You know, the pipeline was closed, and Biden opened it. Plus, I did the biggest sanctions anybody’s ever done on Russia,’ he said.
‘I’ve been very critical of Putin from the standpoint of the pipeline, from the standpoint of raising billions and billions of dollars in NATO to protect, primarily, Europe against Russia. Nobody else did that.’
Trump (center) also rejected the notion that he was soft on Putin, saying: ‘I’ve been very, very tough on Putin. I get a bad rap on that. When you think of it, who was tougher on Russia than me?’ He is pictured with Putin (right) and former First Lady Melania Trump (left) ahead of a meeting in Helsinki, Finland in July 2018
Trump added: ‘I’ve been very critical of Putin from the standpoint of the pipeline, from the standpoint of raising billions and billions of dollars in NATO to protect, primarily, Europe against Russia. Nobody else did that.’ Trump and Putin are pictured together in November 2017 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what has since become the largest assault on a European state since World War Two ended in 1945.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said early Wednesday that peace talks were sounding more realistic but leaders still needed more time. Officials are hopeful the war could end sooner than expected, possibly by May.
‘The meetings continue, and, I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine,’ Zelensky said in a video address on Wednesday.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it was too early to predict progress in the talks, noting: ‘The work is difficult, and in the current situation the very fact that (the talks) are continuing is probably positive.’
Biden will make his first visit to Europe since Russia invaded Ukraine to discuss the crisis with NATO at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on March 24 the White House said. He is also expected to announce an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday.
Meantime, Russian air strikes killed five people in the capital city of Kyiv on Tuesday as buildings were set ablaze and people were buried under rubble. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Just over 3 million have now fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, with over 1.8 million arriving in Poland.
A Ukrainian soldier is seen inspecting the rubble of a destroyed apartment building in Kyiv on Tuesday
A woman walks with a bicycle next to a building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha on Tuesday
Firefighters extinguish a fire in an apartment building in Kyiv on Tuesday
Trump’s Tuesday night commentary came just days after he slammed Biden as being ‘physically and mentally challenged’ during a rally in South Carolina rally, tearing into the Democrat commander-in-chief’s foreign policy in his first such event since Russia invaded Ukraine.
‘You could take the five worst presidents in American history and they would not have done the damage Joe Biden has done in just 13 months. We have a president representing our country at the most important time in history, who is physically and mentally challenged,’ Trump said on Saturday night.
He claimed Biden ‘failed to deter Russia’s outrageous invasion of Ukraine’ and claimed he would have been able to prevent Putin from going to war.
‘The fake news said my personality got us into a war. “I’m telling you, that guy’s going to get us into a war.” But actually, my personality is what kept us out of war. I was the only president in nearly four decades who did not get America into any new conflicts.’ Trump claimed.
Trump’s Tuesday night remarks came just days after he slammed Biden as being ‘physically and mentally challenged’ during a rally in South Carolina rally on Saturday (pictured)
Trump blasted Putin’s invasion as a ‘terrible atrocity’ though he did not mention the autocrat by name. The condemnation is a far cry from his heavily-criticized remarks calling Russia’s plan ‘genius’ late last month.
‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a terrible atrocity that should never have been allowed to happen or would have never happened. I know I speak for everyone here tonight. When I say we are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. They are going through hell,’ he said. ‘Make no mistake, however, that Russia would not have dared to annex one inch of territory. If I was in the White House. In fact, they never did it when I was there.’
However, at one point during Saturday’s rally Trump did describe the Kremlin’s leader as being ‘driven’ in his attack.
‘And for all the talk about violent conflict in Eastern Europe, and it’s a terrible thing, and we’re gonna help and we’re gonna do whatever we can because nobody can look at the bloodshed much longer what’s happening,’ Trump said.
‘It’s a lack of respect for a lot of people, a lot of things but it’s just a total lack of respect. And it happens to be a man that is just driven. He’s driven to put it together and you look at it and it’s just so ridiculous and so senseless and so horrible.’
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