Trump praised Putin. So what is Trump’s position on Russia?

Former President Donald Trump called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “disaster”, called Russian President Vladimir Putin “smart” and criticized the effectiveness of economic sanctions.

During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference On Saturday, Trump said Russia’s attack on Ukraine was “appalling” and blamed US weakness for the attack.

“It’s a scandal and an atrocity that should never have happened,” he said.

Trump also praised Putin, whom he previously called a “genius” for declaring parts of Ukraine independent before the invasion.

“The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course is smart, but the real problem is that our leaders are stupid,” Trump said.

Trump’s political attacks on President Joe Biden could resonate with 75% of Republicans who disapprove of his handling of the Ukraine situation, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll. But Trump’s approach to the Russian leader has been criticized within his own party.

“How can anyone with any understanding of the world call Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine ‘brilliant’ and ‘very shrewd’ when we see him uniting the rest of the world against Russia in almost a moment ?” old New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, tweeted on Monday. “No turning back. History is watching.

During his remarks, Trump called the sanctions “a pretty weak statement.”

“You mean I can take over a whole country and they’ll punish me? he said, referring to Putin.

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and their allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Russia since the invasion, and the Russian ruble is now worth less than a US penny. In the United States, sanctions have bipartisan support, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying last week that all available sanctions should be rolled out.

Trump falsely claimed in a statement Monday that the election was stolen and that if it wasn’t, Russia wouldn’t have attacked Ukraine.

Trump’s stance on Russia has long been put under the microscope. His campaign removed a section from the Republican Party platform on give arms to Ukraine in 2016and as president he called for Russia to be allowed to join the Group of Seven, from which it was expelled after taking Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Trump floated the idea of ​​recognizing Crimea as Russian territory , and in 2019, the Trump administration froze nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraineleading to his first indictment.

Republican attitudes toward the Russian leader have changed while Trump has been in office. Between 2015 and 2017, the percentage of Republicans with a favorable opinion of Putin increasedfrom 12% to 32%suggesting the beginnings of a shift away from the traditional GOP stance from Reagan to Romney toward Moscow.

Putin’s invasion, however, lost him fans from the American right. Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a Russian advocate whose recent segment was aired on Russian state televisionchanged his tune, declaring last week that the war was Putin’s responsibility and a tragedy.

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