Former US President Donald Trump has praised Vladimir Putin for deploying Russian troops into Ukraine.
Amid the escalating tension between Ukraine and Russia, on Tuesday, Putin ordered troops into separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine in what he called a “peacekeeping mission”.
The order came hours after he signed decrees recognising the independence of Moscow-backed breakaway territories of Ukraine — the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
Commenting on Putin’s actions, Trump said it was “genius” and called the Russian leader “very savvy” for describing the troops as peacekeepers.
According to The New York Times, Trump, who spoke during a radio show, accused US President Joe Biden of failing to address Putin’s recognition of the breakaway territories.
“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said ‘this is genius’,” Trump was quoted as saying.
“Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.
“Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper.
“That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. We could use that on our southern border. There were more army tanks than I’d ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”
The former US president had earlier said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would not have happened if he were still in office.
Following Russia’s deployment of troops into Ukraine, the UK announced sanctions for five Russian banks and three of its wealthy individuals.
Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, said the sanctions were the “first tranche” and “first barrage” of measures in response to Russia’s actions.
Similarly, Biden had said the US will deploy additional troops and equipment to Baltic members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Eastern Europe.
Biden also said the US is implementing sanctions on two Russian financial institutions, adding that sanctions would also be imposed on Russia’s elites and their family members.
The US president has warned of more sanctions against Russia if Putin fails to withdraw his forces from Ukraine.