In a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria which aired Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called out former President Donald Trump for "praising" Vladimir Putin just ahead of the invasion of Ukraine.
"I believe he had enough time, plenty of time, to understand who Putin is," Zelensky said. Speaking further of Trump, Zelensky described, "I think he was sitting at such a high position where it’s not even possible not to recognize that [Putin] is the opponent in terms of values to your own people. He [Trump] has all the might of this country — intelligence, data — to create a psychological profile."
Zelensky further expressed that he was "surprised" at Trump's behavior in the lead-up to the invasion and also "even after the beginning, with a full-fledged invasion."
"Probably he needed this to promote his domestic policy to show that he’s ready to find understanding with the president of Russia," the Ukrainian president added.
Zelensky appeared to be addressing Trump's generally positive statements which have come on multiple occasions, including as recently as this month, about Putin as a strategist. Trump had called the Russian leader a "genius" in this regard a mere days prior to the Feb.24 Russian invasion of Ukraine:
Speaking on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, Trump described Putin's tactic of recognizing two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine and sending Russian troops to the regions under the guise of "peacekeeping operations" as "genius" and "very savvy."
Trump doubled down on his praise of the Russian president, telling a crowd at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that Putin was "pretty smart" as he had "taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions" just as the fully fledged invasion was underway.
Trump had during the February radio interview emphasized that Russian would have never built-up a huge force of troops along the border threatening Ukraine if he were still president, while underscoring Joe Biden as weak and incapable of reading the situation.
“I know that he always wanted #Ukraine. I used to talk to him about it. I said you can't do it, you're not gonna do it. But I could see that he wanted it. I used to ask him, we used to talk about it at length.” - Former President Donald Trump #Putin #Russia pic.twitter.com/CFU5enernp— The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show (@clayandbuck) February 22, 2022
That's when Trump had said of Putin: "Here's a guy that says, you know, 'I'm gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent.' He used the word 'independent,' 'and we're gonna go out and we're gonna go in and we're gonna help keep peace.' You gotta say that's pretty savvy,"
Yet it doesn't at all appear Trump was at all praising Putin's character or moral standing as a leader, but was merely making observations of Putin as a tactician based on power politics, and his ability to geopolitically maneuver in Russia's favor.
Zelensky in the Sunday CNN interview took a further swipe at Trump in saying:
"Ukraine in his eyes is too far away. But this war has no distances it could not cover, so I believe he needs to look at the situation without, as we say, pink glasses on," Zelensky said, per CNN’s translation.
And yet ironically - and as we reminded readers again just days ago - for years prior to the current crisis Trump was the lone world leader loudly warning Europe against becoming "totally dependent on Russian energy."
Then President Trump emphasized this theme multiple times, including while sitting directly across from his European counterparts, and also notably during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Sept. 2018 wherein he predicted: "Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation."
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Meanwhile, the end result of the ongoing weapons & defense aid bonanza coming in from the West...