Donald Trump believes he could get Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to hammer out a peace deal within a day of being elected.
“So I would literally start calling, not from the day I took over but from the night I won. I’d call two people. You know who the people are? Putin, right you know who Putin is, and Zelensky. And I’d say ‘were gonna meet, we’re gonna meet’. And I guarantee I could work that out, I guarantee. I know exactly what I’d say, by the way. I’d tell one guy this and I’d tell one guy that and I’d say you better make a deal. We would have a deal made in 24 hours,” Trump said, speaking at an event in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday night.
The former president did not elaborate on just what he’d tell the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to get them to the negotiating table, but assured that the crisis in Ukraine would never have escalated to its current state if he was still in office.
“Putin never ever would have gone into Ukraine if I were president. Never,” Trump said. “I mean we actually had a very good relationship. By the way that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. You know these idiots back there would say ‘he’s very close to Putin’,” Trump said, gesturing and pointing toward media cameras in the back of the hall.
“Remember when they hit me with the question ‘Who do you trust – your intelligence people… Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, or Putin?’ And I said ‘you know that could be the toughest question I’ve ever been asked as a politician.’ And then when I really didn’t give them a very good answer in terms of exactness, because I didn’t want to, because I didn’t trust these people (these are bad people) all hell broke loose, but that’s okay. And it turned out I was right about that too. These people – what they have done to our country with the fake Russia-Russia-Russia scam, it’s just incredible. But Putin never ever would have gone into Ukraine,” Trump said.
Trump, one of a handful of politicians to have already announced their candidacy for the Republican nomination in 2024, spent much of his Florida appearance blasting President Joe Biden on issues ranging from the way his successor handled the US pullout from Afghanistan, to the immigration crisis, to energy costs, the $32 trillion national debt and the culture wars.
“There’s only one president who’s ever taken the entire corrupt establishment in Washington on and I think you know who that is, when you see what’s happening it’s so sad for our country. In recent weeks I’ve been laying out a cutting edge agenda for 2024,” Trump said.
The former president is well-known for his braggadocios speaking style and for touting himself as a businessman deal-making genius (even though his last major foray into peace agreements – his administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan, was blasted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a document worthy of being “thrown into the garbage can of history” over its pro-Israeli bias).
At the same time, Trump has expressed pride for being the first US president in decades not to have started a new war, and he managed to establish close personal ties with many traditional US adversaries, including President Putin of Russia, President Xi of China, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.During Trump’s term in office, his relationship with Volodymyr Zelensky soured after the leak of information that Trump had asked Kiev to reopen an investigation into suspected money-laundering and illegal pay-to-play activity involving Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, during Joe Biden’s tenure as Barack Obama’s vice president.
Biden famously once bragged at a Council of Foreign Relations event that he had a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son fired by threatening to withhold a $1 billion loan. But Trump was the one who got into trouble in Washington – with his conversation with Zelensky sparking accusations that he was digging up dirt against a potential political opponent. Trump was ultimately impeached by the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives in 2019 on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges over Ukrainegate, but the Senate acquitted him in early 2020.
Russia has made its demands for bringing the Ukrainian crisis to an end clear – security for Crimea and the Donbass, and guarantees that Ukraine doesn’t join NATO.
However, Western officials successfully undermined Russian-Ukrainian peace talks last spring, and pumped more than $100 billion in military and economic assistance to Kiev to prolong the conflict for as long as possible.
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