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Bush and Obama back Biden response to Russia invasion of Ukraine after Trump branded Putin ‘genius’

Bush and Obama both express solidarity with the Ukrainian people after Trump praised their invader

Megan Sheets
Thursday 24 February 2022 21:31 GMT
Ukrainian ambassador says ‘people are dying as we speak’ during news conference

Two former presidents have issued harsh condemnations of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine - days after a third branded the dictator a “genius”.

George W Bush and Barack Obama released statements on Thursday, hours after Russia began its attack on multiple targets within Ukrainian territory, including its capital city.

In his statement, which followed a strong speech on the issue by his former vice president Joe Biden, Mr Obama accused Russia of launching “a brazen attack on the people of Ukraine, in violation of international law and basic principles of human decency”.

He continued: “People of conscience around the world need to loudly and clearly condemn Russia’s actions and offer support for the Ukrainian people.

“And every American, regardless of party, should support President Biden’s efforts, in coordination with our closest allies, to impose hard-hitting sanctions on Russia - sanctions that impose a real price on Russia’s autocratic elites.”

In a statement prior to Mr Biden’s remarks, Mr Bush called the attack “the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II” and said people must “stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future”.

“I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” said Mr Bush. “We cannot tolerate the authoritarian bullying and danger that Putin poses.”

The former leaders’ statements, particularly their words about Mr Putin, were markedly different than the remarks Mr Trump made earlier this week in a series of statements and an interview with two conservative hosts.

Mr Trump has largely stuck to the effusive praise of Mr Putin that became a staple of his foreign policy while president, and praised the Russian leader’s previous order of so-called “peacekeeping” troops into Crimea as a supposedly “genius” move to which the US allegedly had no response.

Mr Trump has remained silent in the hours since the invasion began.

The statements from Mr Bush and Mr Obama were much more in line with remarks by Mr Biden as well as statements issued by congressional Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who like Mr Biden have roundly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called for strict sanctions against Moscow.

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