Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, hit out at former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley after she claimed on Sunday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would ‘never’ have taken place under the leadership of of former President Donald Trump.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, Trump described the strongman leader as a “genius” and said his decision was “wise”. He also described Putin as “very smart”, after years of speaking favorably of the Russian leader. But Trump also insisted that Putin would not have launched the invasion if he was still president.
Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2018 and South Carolina’s GOP governor from 2011 to 2017, claimed on Sunday that the Trump administration would have prevented the invasion of Ukraine.
“It never would have happened under Trump. What we have to look at now is how do we make sure it doesn’t go any further under Biden,” the former Trump administration official told NBC. Meet the press host Chuck Todd.
Shortly after the interview aired, Kinzinger, a staunch Trump critic, took aim at Haley and her assessment. “Watching @NikkiHaley makes me shake my head. She used to shoot straight, now she’s still bidding for Trump,” the GOP congressman wrote in a post on Twitter.
Despite arguments by Trump and his allies, others who served in the former president’s administration have pushed back against suggestions that he somehow stopped Putin from invading Ukraine.
“The thing is, he barely knew where Ukraine was,” John Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, told Newsmax in a recent interview. “It’s just not accurate to say that Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians,” Bolton insisted.
Then on Friday, Bolton said The Washington Post that he believed Trump was aiming to pull the United States out of NATO if he won a second term. He stressed that this would play directly into Putin’s goals.
“In a second Trump term, I think he may well have pulled out of NATO,” Bolton said. “And I think Putin was expecting that.”
Russia launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, condemned by the international community. In response, the United States, Western European allies and other countries around the world have implemented tough financial sanctions targeting the Russian economy, Putin and other members of the Moscow elite. NATO countries have also pledged additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which has already exceeded the expectations of many analysts by stalling the Russian advance.
A number of prominent Republicans appeared to criticize Trump and other GOP members who spoke favorably of Putin amid the invasion.
“There’s no place in this party for Putin apologists. There’s only room for champions,” former Vice President Mike Pence said at a Republican National Committee retreat in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 4.
“How can anyone with any understanding of the world call Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine ‘brilliant’ and ‘very shrewd’ when we see him uniting the rest of the world against Russia in one almost instant?” Former New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie tweeted on Feb. 28.
Newsweek contacted Trump’s press office and Kinzinger’s spokesperson for additional comment.