Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered troops into separatist-backed regions of eastern Ukraine, a move that could lead to a further military incursion into the nation and an untold number of lives lost and communities ravaged. Western powers from the United States to Germany have announced sanctions on Russia for moving toward war, while American lawmakers from both parties have condemned Putin as a “dictator” who must pay for his aggression.
Trump thinks he’s doing great.
“I said, ‘This is genius,'” Trump said on a right-wing podcast. “Putin declared a big portion of … Ukraine … as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. … I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force. … We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep the peace all right. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy … I know him very well. Very, very well.”
Trump, still sucking up to Putin. pic.twitter.com/ihS4cwE9mv
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) February 22, 2022
Trump eventually seemed to remember that most people think Putin invading an independent democratic nation is a bad thing, so he quickly pivoted from giddy praise to noting that “this would have never happened” if he were still in office. “This would have never happened,” he said, adding that “it’s very sad” that Biden gave “no response.”
Trump threw another jab at Biden in a statement released Wednesday morning. “Our country has totally lost its self-confidence!” he wrote.
Putin may or may not have moved on Ukraine while Trump was still in office, but there’s no question that Trump spent four solid years undermining if not outright trashing NATO. The alliance of Western nations is Europe’s primary military counterbalance against Putin’s appetite for military aggression, and Trump often threatened to break the alliance over various squabbles with America’s overseas allies.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Trump’s comments later on Tuesday. “We try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy,” she told reporters. When asked if the White House is worried that Trump’s comments could turn support for Ukraine into a partisan issue, Psaki said “it’s up to members of the Republican Party to make that determination.”
Psaki on Trump praising Putin's moves into Ukraine: "Well, as a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin." pic.twitter.com/LIjOzcZiG2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 22, 2022
Trump’s deference to Putin has been well-documented, of course. He wondered way back in 2013 whether they might become “best friends” if the authoritarian were to attend the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. He praised him breathlessly while he was in office, and has continued to do so since leaving the White House. But lauding Putin right as he prepares to launch a hot war guaranteed to result in thousands of lives lost is a different kind of abhorrent, and the latest in a countless string of reminders that whenever it seems like Trump has bottomed out, he always finds a new depth of depravity to plumb, a new angle of evil to embrace.
This post has been updated.