Feb 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump calls Putin's Ukraine strategy "very savvy"

Photo of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin standing next to each other

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (left) and President Trump at the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper: 5 key questions that could determine the shape of Russia's invasion

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