Trump praises Putin for his move into Ukraine, calling it 'genius'

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
(Image credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump is giving Russian President Vladimir Putin two thumbs up for his decision to recognize two breakaway regions of Ukraine and send troops to the areas.

While Putin's actions have received sharp criticism and sanctions from President Biden, Trump was full of praise for the Russian leader. During an interview on the conservative Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, Trump said it was "wonderful," "so smart," and even "genius" for Putin to "declare a big portion of the Ukraine ... as independent." He claimed Putin will now "go in" and "be a peacekeeper." While Putin has said he's sending troops to the breakaway regions as part of a "peacekeeping" mission, Western leaders say he is merely making it easier for Russia to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Trump also declared that Putin has "the strongest peace force I've ever seen," with "more army tanks than I've ever seen," and "we could use that on our southern border." Putin is "savvy," Trump continued, before complimenting himself by stating the Russia-Ukraine crisis "would have never happened" if he was still president.

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His comments were brushed off by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. "As a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy, which I believe is what happened there," Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. "And that's probably why President Biden and not his predecessor was able to rally the world and the global community and taking steps against Russia's aggression."

Trump also received pushback from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who tweeted that his "adulation of Putin today — calling him a 'genius' — aids our enemies. Trump's interests don't seem to align with the interests of the United States of America."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.