A State Department spokesman said he had ‘no words’ for Donald Trump’s controversial comments about Putin.
The former US president on Tuesday called the Russian president’s actions “genius” and “savvy.”
On Monday, Putin recognized Moscow-backed separatists’ territorial claims in eastern Ukraine.
The top spokesperson for the US State Department on Wednesday said he was at a loss for words in response to former President Donald Trump’s recent comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
In a Tuesday interview on a podcast episode of the “Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show,” Trump described Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine as both “savvy” and “genius.”
Trump’s comments came one day after Putin recognized Moscow-backed separatists’ territorial claims in eastern Ukraine, the self-described “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk. The move on Monday reversed Russia’s years-long stance on the region and marked a possible lead-up to a major offensive.
“I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius,'” Trump said on the podcast. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”
Meanwhile, Trump praised the Russian president’s actions as “smart.”
“I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper,” he said.
During the podcast interview, Trump also baselessly claimed that Putin waited to invade Ukraine until now when Biden is president, because the Russian president had a better relationship with Trump — an assertion that fails to acknowledge the longstanding war Russia fueled against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas throughout his time as president.
Trump also compared the rising tensions in Ukraine to conservative fear around immigration, suggesting the US should utilize military force similar to that used by Russia to assure the security of the US-Mexico border.
“We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen,” Trump said. “There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”
He added: “I know him very well — very, very well.”
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said he was rendered speechless following Trump’s comments.
“I have no response,” Price said during a press conference on Wednesday. “In fact, I have no words.”
The former president’s controversial comments have also drawn reactions from political players beyond the State Department.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — a longtime adversary of Trump — said his “adulation” of Putin “aids our enemies” and suggested the former president was emboldening the US’ foreign adversaries with his comments.
Fox News host Pete Hegseth, however, defended Trump, claiming the American media was to blame for spreading Russian propaganda and support for Putin.
“And Donald Trump was happy to troll them on it, as he continues to do to this moment,” Hegseth said. “Because they can’t resist it, and they’ll obsess over it.”
On Wednesday, Ukraine declared a nationwide state of emergency after Russia ordered troops into the eastern part of the country.
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