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Former President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been “emboldened” to invade Ukraine after witnessing the “incompetent” US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year – as he said states States would not be in this position if he was still in the White House.
“First of all, it’s shocking because it should never have happened, it wouldn’t have happened,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”
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Trump was reacting to growing tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion. Earlier Saturday, the State Department ordered the evacuation of non-emergency personnel from the embassy in Kyiv, hours after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan urged Americans to leave the country.
“As we’ve said before, we’re in the window where an invasion could begin at any time, should Vladimir Putin decide to order it,” Sullivan said during a White House press briefing.
Trump says the blame for the situation lies with the Biden administration and linked it to the August withdrawal from Afghanistan – saying China and Russia were watching closely.
“How we got here was when they looked at Afghanistan, and they saw the most incompetent withdrawal in history of probably any army, let alone us, and President Xi [Jinping] and President Putin – look what’s happening with China very soon with Taiwan – and they looked at that, and they said, ‘What’s going on? They don’t know what they are doing. And all of a sudden, I think they got a lot more ambitious.”
“I think Putin really wanted to negotiate for a while, but when he looked at Afghanistan when he saw this incredibly bad, incompetent withdrawal, where they first eliminated the army, where they left 85 billion dollars of equipment for the Taliban to have and use and of course the deaths that occurred – when they looked at all of that, I think they got emboldened.
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He again asserted that the situation would not be where it is now if he was still president.
“I know him very well, I got on very well with him, I stopped his pipeline, I sanctioned them more than anyone ever sanctioned them,” he said. “No one has ever been tougher on Russia, but I got on very well with Putin, we respected each other. I think you have a whole different ballgame at the moment.”
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President Biden will speak to Putin on Saturday, but Trump dismissed the significance of such a phone call.
“It’s just a drill, he’s not going to tell him anything and I don’t think at this point Putin is going to listen,” he said.