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Trump claims he ‘threatened’ Putin over Ukraine despite calling Russian troop build-up ‘a genius move’

Former president leans in to claim that he could have prevented invasion

John Bowden
Tuesday 26 April 2022 00:08 BST
Trump claims he threatened Putin 'like he's never been threatened before'
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Former president Donald Trump stuck to his claim that he could have prevented the Russian invasion of Ukraine in an interview broadcast on Monday as part of the inaugural episode of Piers Morgan’s new show.

Mr Trump, combative as ever, insisted to Mr Morgan during the interview that he had “threatened” Russia’s Vladimir Putin during his time in office, warning that Moscow would face severe consequences for invading Ukraine.

“I told him what our response would be, and he said, ‘Really?’ And I said, ‘Really,’” claimed the 45th president. “I threatened him like he’s never been threatened before.”

He also lambasted Mr Putin for what he oddly referred to as the latter’s use of “the N-word”, which he used to refer not to the racist epithet but instead to the Russian leader’s threats of nuclear retaliation.

“I call it the ‘N-word’. He uses the ‘N-word’, the nuclear word, all the time. That’s a no-no. You’re not supposed to do that. He uses it on a daily basis,” said Mr Trump.

The former president said what he would tell Mr Putin in response: “I would say, ‘we have far more than you do, far, far more powerful than you and you can’t use that word ever again. You cannot use the nuclear word ever again... And if you do, we're gonna have problems.”

Mr Trump’s remarks come as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stretched into its second month following Moscow’s failure to take Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and a redeployment of Russian forces that many believe was done to refocus the war on a territorial land-grab in Ukraine’s east and south.

The ex-president and his GOP allies have loudly insisted for weeks that the former president would have presented a tougher opponent to Mr Putin on the world stage than does Joe Biden, who has faced Republican blame for the conflict. But Mr Trump’s own history with Mr Putin during his presidency is far more muddled and suggests instead that Mr Trump could have accepted the false claims that Russian diplomats pushed for weeks as the invasion date approached wherein they insisted that Russia truly had no plans to invade Ukraine at all.

After all, it was Donald Trump who famously appeared alongside Vladimir Putin at a 2018 press conference and publicly rejected the findings of US intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, telling reporters at the time that he saw no reason why Russia’s government would have directed such interference.

The former president continued to heap praise on his former counterpart as recently as days before the Russian invasion began, and complimented an order by the Kremlin directing Russian forces into the disputed Donbas region where Russian-backed separatists have battled Ukrainian forces since 2014. At the time, Moscow insisted that deployment was a “peacekeeping” force and would not be used to invade further Ukrainian territory, an explanation Mr Trump did not publicly question while making his positive assessment of the Russian military’s decision.

He has repeatedly lambasted the US news media in recent days for reporting on his most recent praise of the Russian military decision, claiming that reporters are stating that he called Vladimir Putin himself a “genius”.

“The fake news is also saying I called Putin a ‘genius’, when actually, and to be precise, I called his build-up on the Ukraine border before the war started genius because I assumed he would be easily able to negotiate a great deal for Russia,” he said in a recent statement.

He added during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC): “The problem is not that Putin is smart, which, of course, he’s smart... The problem is that our leaders are dumb... and so far, allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity.”

“Putin is playing Biden like a drum and it’s not a pretty thing to watch,” Mr Trump said.

The war in Ukraine has so far cost more than 2,300 deaths, an estimate from the United Nations thought to be on the low side as much of the carnage has yet to be uncovered. British intelligence has suggested as many as 15,000 Russian troops have lost their lives.

Talks to end the war have so far borne no fruit as Moscow has demanded an end to the steady supply of weapons and equipment being provided to Kyiv from the west but has shown no sign of backing down from its assault.

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