Former President Donald Trump is changing his opinion on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump recently spoke with David Drucker of the “Washington Examiner.” Trump said that he was “surprised” when Putin invaded Ukraine.
The former president indicated that he thought Putin was positioning his troops at Ukraine’s border so that he could negotiate with 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 said in a phone interview with Drucker. Trump added that he thought it was a tough way to negotiate but that it was a smart way to negotiate.
Last month former President Trump was criticized for praising the Russian present and calling the beginning of the invasion “savvy” and “genius.” Putin amassed over 150,000 troops along the Ukrainian border. And then he Putin declared two regions in Ukraine as independent republics. Donetsk and Luhansk were somewhat pro-Kremlin separatist regions. And then on February 24th, Putin ordered his troops to move into Ukraine as a “special military operation” intended to keep peace in Ukraine.
But this effect was declaring war on a sovereign country.
Trump said that he thought Putin was going to make a deal with Ukraine like nations do with the United States and other nations. He anticipated that Putin was using his strength to get leverage for a new trade deal.
“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,” former President Trump said.
Trump talked about how strong he had been with Russia while he was president. He said that he had been “very, very tough on Putin.” But he also noted that he got along with the Russian president in the same way that he got along with most of the world leaders. Trump asked, “When you think of it, who was tougher on Russia than me?”
Trump declared that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he was still in the Oval Office. And he reminded Drucker that he stood up to Russia by opposing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Trump also said that he got NATO billions and billions of dollars.
“Now, all that money is going against Russia, so I did that,” the former president said.
Trump’s presidency was linked to both Putin and Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president. Many believed that there was Russian interference in Trump’s campaign for the presidency, although the Mueller investigation found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. And the first vote to impeach Trump came after the former president was said to have pushed Zelenskyy to begin an investigation into Hunter Biden’s dealings with Ukraine. The former president ordered a stoppage on military aid to Ukraine at the same time. Zelenskyy said in a joint press conference with Trump in 2019 that nobody pushed him to investigate the Bidens.
During a speech on February 26th at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump called what Putin did in Ukraine “a travesty and assault on humanity.” He also said that it would have been easy for him to stop the invasion from happening. During the same speech, he called Zelenskyy a “brave man.”
Trump summed up his thoughts on what is happening by saying to the CPAC gathering that Putin was smarter than the leaders of NATO. “The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he’s smart. The real problem is that our leaders are dumb. Dumb. So dumb,” Trump said.