- Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted former President Donald Trump over his recent praise of Vladimir Putin.
- “It is outrageous, if unsurprising, that Trump would praise Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine,” he tweeted.
- Trump earlier this week called Putin’s actions against Ukraine “genius.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday denounced former President Donald Trump for speaking highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
“It is outrageous, if unsurprising, that Trump would praise Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine as an act of ‘genius,'” the independent senator from Vermont tweeted. “It should concern us all that Putin is exactly the kind of leader Trump would like to be, and that so few Republicans have the courage to say this out loud.”
—Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 24, 2022
Putin on Tuesday declared two Ukrainian breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent, which Trump at the time called “genius” and “savvy.”
“I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful,” Trump said during a podcast interview. “I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper.”
“Here’s a guy who’s very savvy,” Trump said of Putin. “I know him very well — very, very well.”
The conflict in Ukraine has dramatically escalated since then, with Putin launching a military assault against the European country early Thursday morning. Blasts and missile strikes have been heard across Ukraine, according to reports. At least 40 Ukrainian soldiers and 50 Russian troops have died in early fighting, Ukraine said, along with at least eight Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian shelling.
For months, Putin denied efforts to invade Ukraine, despite tens of thousands of Russian troops stationed at the border. The invasion has sparked widespread condemnation and retaliation from world leaders. The United States earlier this week announced a slew of sanctions against Russia in response.
Following Putin’s announcement early Thursday, President Joe Biden forcefully decried his actions, saying, “Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
Trump, however, along with far-right conservatives including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have rallied behind Putin in recent days. Some moderate Republicans who are openly critical of Trump, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have blasted Trump over his praise for Putin.
Yet most GOP figures have remained quiet on Trump’s remarks.