White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki slammed Donald Trump for his effusive praise of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin yesterday.
Putin sent troops into Ukraine this week, formally occupying land that is a part of the sovereign democracy, and he signed a document calling the regions “independent,” a move that could lead to Russia establishing military bases in Ukraine.
Ukraine is a U.S. ally and part of NATO’s enhanced opportunity partner interoperability program, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made clear his intentions for NATO membership in the future.
So one would think that U.S. presidents – even former U.S. presidents – would be opposed to Russia annexing territory from its neighbors.
Instead, Trump called Putin “genius” for invading Ukraine.
“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion… of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent,” Trump said on the rightwing Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show.
“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.”
“Does the White House have any reaction to former President Trump calling Putin’s move yesterday ‘genius’ and ‘smart’?” a reporter asked Psaki at the White House press briefing yesterday.
“As a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy,” Psaki answered drily, “expresses an openness to lifting sanctions about the seizing of territory in Crimea, or, at any point in time, told leaders of the G7 that Crimea is a part of Russia, regardless if they are a former president.”
“So there’s a bit of a different tactic, a bit of a different approach. And that’s probably why President Biden, and not his predecessor, was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against — against Russia’s aggression.”
The reporter then asked if Psaki is worried that Trump is going to make Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into a “partisan issue among the U.S. public.” This is a real possibility; some Fox News hosts have already declared their support for Putin.
“I think that is up to members of the Republican Party to make the decision, to make the determination,” Psaki said, noting that there’s “a long history… of standing up to the efforts of any country to seize the territory of another country, standing up for efforts by the United States to rally global support against — against inappropriate and illegal actions by another country.”
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