Moreover, the former president has been recasting himself as a longtime champion of Ukraine. On March 2, he said Ukraine was defending itself so well against the Russians “because of the weapons that I gave” them.
And on Monday, when Fox Business host Stuart Varney asked Trump if he would have sent Ukraine MiG-29 fighter jets, he replied, “Well maybe even more, to be honest with you.”
But Trump’s boasts of generosity toward Ukraine have no basis in fact. As president, he dragged his feet in releasing aid to Ukraine ― even though Congress had already authorized it ― because he wanted the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to dig up dirt on the Biden family ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump has also publicly admitted that he didn’t like the idea of giving financial assistance to Ukraine and did so only when Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) pressured him to do it.
On Oct. 2, 2019, Trump said that while he wanted to help Ukraine, he resented all the money the United States gave the country.
“We give money to Ukraine, and it’s bothered me from day one,” he said.
Trump said that Ukraine had always been too corrupt for his liking, but that he was fine with the current president because Zelenskyy had denied that he pressured him to investigate Biden’s son.
Trump then relayed the story of releasing the aid to Ukraine, saying that America had long been a “sucker” for handing over money but that now, because of him, it was better:
[Portman] called up: “Please, let the money go.” I said, “Rob, I hate being the country that’s always giving money when Ukraine helps Europe and the European countries far more than they help us.”
They’re like a wall between Russia and Europe. They’re like a wall. They’re a big, wide, beautiful wall.
And he said, “You know what? But it’s important.”
And he — in fact, he came out and he said that. That was my only reason.
Because I don’t like being the sucker country. We were the sucker country for years and years. We’re not the sucker country anymore. But I gave the money because Rob Portman and others called me and asked. But I don’t like to be the sucker. And European countries are helped far more than we are, and those countries should pay more to help Ukraine.
On Feb. 23, Trump said of Putin: “I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.”
Trump also said that “never in a million years” would such an invasion have happened during his presidency. He couldn’t help but boast of Putin, “I know him very well.”
And in a radio interview the previous day, Trump called him “savvy” and “smart.”
“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,” he said. “That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”
John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, has rejected the notion that Putin didn’t invade Ukraine earlier because Trump was so tough. Instead, he has said that Trump “barely knew where Ukraine was” and was so aligned with Putin’s goals that there was no need to make such a move.
“I think one of the reasons that Putin did not move during Trump’s term in office was he saw the president’s hostility of NATO,” Bolton said on March 9, adding: “Putin saw Trump doing a lot of his work for him, and thought, maybe in a second term, Trump would make good on his desire to get out of NATO, and then it would just ease Putin’s path just that much more.”