Former US President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin's action in Ukraine shortly before the later signaled the start of the military operation.
During a live interview with The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show on Tuesday, Trump called Putin's announcement of recognising the breakaway regions of Eastern Ukraine as independent states as "genius" and "smart" , reports CTV News.
I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine … as independent. Oh, that's wonderful," he said on the show on Tuesday.
"Putin is now saying, 'It's independent,' a large section of Ukraine. I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's going to go in and be a peacekeeper," Trump added.
Trump didn't miss a beat in assuring his audience that while Putin is a "smart" leader, he would never have been able to achieve his goals in Ukraine if Trump were still in power.
"This would never have happened, ever in a million years, it would have never happened," Trump said. "And I know him [Putin] very well. I know him probably almost as well as I know anybody in this room other than Doc Ronny."
Speaking at another political fundraiser on the same day held at his Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump admired the Russian dictator's strategic success.
"I mean, he's taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions," Trump said. "I'd say that's pretty smart. He's taking over a country — literally a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.
As Russia's military began its assault on Ukraine, explosions were heard in Kyiv and Kharkiv, cities that are home to millions of Ukrainians. American intelligence agencies have warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could result in the deaths of 50,000 civilians, 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 10,000 Russian troops. The war between the two neighbors could also trigger a massive refugee crisis across Europe.