Trump calls Putin's Ukraine strategy "very savvy"
Former President Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin "very savvy" after Putin recognized two breakaway "republics" in eastern Ukraine as independent.
Why it matters: Western leaders have denounced the declaration as a violation of international law and Ukrainian sovereignty. Russian forces have moved into Ukraine under the guise of peacekeeping.
What he's saying: In an interview with "The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show" on Tuesday, Trump called Putin's move "genius" and "very savvy."
- "Putin is now saying, 'It’s independent,' a large section of Ukraine. I said, 'How smart is that?'"
- "And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper," Trump added. "That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. ... Here’s a guy who’s very savvy. … I know him very well. Very, very well."
- "By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable," Trump claimed. "And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn’t have one for that. No, it’s very sad."
The big picture: Trump's former White House national security adviser has warned that the U.S. must formulate plans to recognize a Ukrainian government in exile in case Russian troops depose Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
- It's unclear whether the Russian troops will seek to secure only the territory the separatists currently hold or the entirety of the areas they claim, Axios' Dave Lawler notes.
- Putin previously spoke of a close relationship with Trump.