Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday released his lengthiest statement yet on the growing crisis in Ukraine, slamming what he called “weak sanctions” from the President Joe Biden Administration while avoiding direct condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump said in a statement that “I know Vladimir Putin very well,” claiming “he would have never done during the Trump Administration what he is doing now, no way!”
While the ex-president did suggest he doesn’t agree with Russia moving into Ukraine, he largely placed the blame on President Joe Biden for what he called “weak sanctions” given the situation, without saying what he believes the penalty should be for Russia.
He also noted Russia “has become very rich during the Biden Administration” due to the rising price of oil, appearing to blame the administration for the spike despite broad global supply and demand issues.
Before Tuesday, Trump hadn’t released a statement about Ukraine since January 24, when he sent a two sentence message saying: “What’s happening with Russia and Ukraine would never have happened under the Trump Administration. Not even a possibility!”
Trump was often criticized during his presidency, even by members of his own party, for appearing to have a cozy relationship with Putin and other autocratic leaders.
Putin on Monday recognized two pro-Russian breakaway states in eastern Ukraine as independent countries, and ordered troops to move into the region. Western leaders swiftly condemned the move, with Biden signing an executive order Monday banning new American investment in the two regions Russia recognized, the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. Additional sanctions came from the European Union and United Kingdom Tuesday targeting Russian financial services.
White House deputy national security advisor Jon Finer said Tuesday U.S. officials believe Putin’s actions mark the “beginning of an invasion.” Some 190,000 Russian troops are now believed to be along Ukraine’s borders.