Trump calls Putin 'savvy' and 'genius' as escalations on Russia-Ukraine border rise
Trump also suggested China would 'be next' to invade a neighbouring state
Donald Trump has praised Vladimir Putin, calling him "savvy" and a "genius" as tensions continue to escalate between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis.
The 75-year-old former president was referencing Putin's decision to recognise the independence of two breakaway Russian separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine.
Luhansk and Donetsk make up the region of Donbas in Ukraine that borders Russia and both territories have been led by pro-Russia rebels for nearly a decade.
Trump labelled Putin's tactics as "genius."
Speaking to the conservative Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, Trump said: "I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine as independent."
The Russian president has also ordered Russian troops to conduct "peacekeeping" operations in the regions.
"So, 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. That's [the] strongest peace force," Trump said.
Former President Trump’s adulation of Putin today - including calling him a “genius” - aids our enemies.
Trump’s interests don’t seem to align with the interests of the United States of America. https://t.co/snclqW8yCL
— Rep. Liz Cheney (@RepLizCheney) February 22, 2022
Trump was also adamant that under his leadership none of this would have been allowed to happen, saying: "Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened.
"But here's a guy that says, you know, 'I'm gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent,' he used the word 'independent,' and 'we're gonna go out and we're gonna go in and we're gonna help keep peace.'
"You gotta say that's pretty savvy. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn't have one for that. It's very sad."
He also warned that he believes China will now follow Russia's example and try to invade Taiwan.
He told the podcast: "China's going to be next. You know, China is gonna..."
Travis interrupted, and asked: "You think they're gonna go after Taiwan?"
The 75-year-old replied: "Oh, absolutely. Not with me, they wouldn't have.
"They're waiting until after the Olympics. Now the Olympics ended, and look at your stopwatch, right?
"It's almost like twin sisters right here because you have one that wants Taiwan, I think, equally badly. Somebody said, 'Who wants it more?' I think probably equally badly."
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that must accept Chinese sovereignty. The island was where democratic forces fled to following the Chinese Civil War and is therefore not under the rule of the Chinese communist government.
Since 1979, the US has vowed to provide Taiwan with the means to protect itself through the Taiwan Relations Act. The act provides no assurances about whether the US would come to Taiwan's aid if attacked by China though.
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