Former US President Donald Trump has stated that the Ukraine conflict would not have happened had he stayed in office. Trump told Fox News that he had successfully deterred Moscow from attacking Kiev.
“He wouldn’t have done it if it were me. He did it after I left,” Trump told Fox anchor Bret Baier, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview aired on Monday evening.
“I thought he might do it. Look, I talked to him. I said, ‘If you do it, there’s going to be hell to pay. It’s going to be a catastrophe. Don’t do it’,” Trump said. “I told him I was going to do something. He said, ‘No, no, no, you will not do that’. I said, ‘I will, Vladimir, I will do it. I’m going to do it’.”
“He didn’t believe me at all, except for maybe 10%. And 10% is all you needed,” Trump concluded.
Trump said he had a “very good relationship” with Putin when he was in office, and got along with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky as well. He claimed that Zelensky acted honorably during the “impeachment hoax number one” in late 2019, when Democrats accused Trump of threatening Kiev into investigating Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
“I respected him for that. He could have done a grandstand,” Trump said.
At one point, Baier asked Trump if he believed Ukraine was a separate country from Russia.
“It’s a separate country, but at one point it wasn’t a separate country and Putin liked it that way,” replied the former president and the current Republican front-runner for the 2024 nomination.
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Trump declined to discuss any details of a proposed political settlement, saying that doing so would get in the way of actual talks, and repeated that he could stop the conflict “within 24 hours.”
“That’s what I did. I became very rich by doing deals. Very rich,” he said. “I would have a deal done very quickly. And you know what? The death would stop, and the destruction would stop because, look, Ukraine has been wiped out.”
The Hungarian government has endorsed Trump’s thesis, arguing the conflict would not have escalated with him in office, and that only his return to the White House could bring peace.
In a recent interview, Zelensky told NBC News that he was skeptical of Trump’s claim, and that no one in the world could end the war by talking with Putin.
“Why didn’t he do that earlier? He was president when the war was going on here,” the Ukrainian leader said, referring to the hostilities that first broke out in 2014, after the US-backed coup in Kiev. Ukraine has claimed a Russian “invasion” since then.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022, after the US and NATO rejected its proposal for security guarantees. Putin has argued that the West forced his hand by turning Ukraine into a heavily armed anti-Russian regime. Last year, former German and French leaders admitted that the 2015 Minsk ceasefire was just a ploy to buy time for Ukraine to prepare for war.