Former US President Donald Trump boasted of his close relationship with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, arguing that the crisis in Ukraine would not have happened under his government.
“If handled properly, there was absolutely no reason that the situation currently occurring in Ukraine would have happened at all,” he said in a statement.
“I know Vladimir Putin very well, and he would never have done what he is doing now during the Trump administration, absolutely not!”
Russia faces an international backlash after Putin ordered his troops to secure two breakaway enclaves in Ukraine.
The move came with tens of thousands of Russian soldiers on Ukraine’s borders and amid warnings of an all-out invasion.
President Joe Biden imposed economic sanctions on the two enclaves, but on the issue of sanctions against Russia itself, a US official told reporters: “We are going to review what Russia has done.”
Biden will address the nation at 1:00 PM (1800 GMT) about Russia’s actions, the White House said.
But Trump, who had been largely silent about Russia’s escalating threat against the US ally, criticized the “weak” response, which he said was inconsistent with Russia’s actions.
“Now that it’s started, oil prices are going higher and higher, and Putin is not only getting what he always wanted, but is getting richer and richer with the oil and gas wave,” Trump added.
Former White House adviser to Russia Fiona Hill told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s foreign policy had encouraged Putin.
The former president’s foreign policy, she argued, was motivated by personal concerns rather than national interests.
“There is no Team America for Trump. Not once have I seen him do anything to put America first. Not once. Not a second,” said Hill, one of Trump’s most senior aides.
Ukraine found itself in a US domestic political firestorm when then-President Trump asked his leader to launch a mock corruption investigation into Joe Biden’s family ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Allegations that Trump tried to block military aid to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky led to the first of two charges from the Republican.