By Jack Phillips
Former President Donald Trump revealed what he told Russian President Vladimir Putin in what he says was an attempt to delay Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by several years.
During an interview on Monday night with Fox News, Trump said that he told Putin several years ago that a potential invasion would be a “catastrophe” and that there would be “hell to pay.”
Trump made the remarks when he was asked about how he would end the Russia–Ukraine war, which started in February 2022, within 24 hours. In previous interviews, Trump said that he believes the war should be ended because the true death toll isn’t being reported.
“I’m telling you, within 24 hours—that’s what I did. I became very rich by doing deals. Very rich. And you know what? Much more so than people even understand. And that’s what I do,” the former president said. “I would have a deal done in 24 hours from the time we started. And I would tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy something and I would tell Putin something, and I’d get him into a room, and I’d tell him again, and again,” Trump said.
“With Putin, I have a very good relationship. I mean, I haven’t spoken to him in a long while, but I had a very strong relationship,” he said, adding again that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he remained president of the United States. “He wouldn’t have done it if it were me. He did it after I left,” Trump continued.
“I thought he might do it,” Trump said in full. “Look, I talked to him. I said, ‘If you do it, there’s going to be hell to pay. It’s going to be a catastrophe. Don’t do it.’”
According to the former commander-in-chief, Putin told Trump on one occasion that he did not believe Trump would take any action if he invaded. “I told him I was going to do something. He said, ‘No, no, no, you will not do that.’ I said, ‘I will, Vladimir, I will do it. I’m going to do it,’” he added.
It comes as Zelenskyy this week publicly criticized some GOP candidates who have signaled a reluctance to provide military aid to Ukraine. In an interview with NBC News, Zelenskyy was asked about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ characterization of the war as a “territorial dispute” and Trump’s 24 hours comments.
“If any candidate thinks supporting Ukraine is too costly, are they ready to go to war? Are they ready to fight? Send their children? Die?” Zelenskyy said in response to a question about the statements that DeSantis and Trump made. “They will have to do it anyway if NATO enters this war, and if Ukraine fails and Russia occupies us, they will move on to the Baltics or Poland or some other NATO country. And then the U.S. will have to choose between keeping NATO or entering the war.”
Zelenskyy criticized Trump and said that he wasn’t able to end the war in Ukraine while he was in office, without elaborating. Russia invaded Ukraine about a year after Trump departed the White House, and it’s not exactly clear what the Ukrainian president was referring to.
“Why didn’t he do that earlier? He was president when the war was going on here,” he explained, appearing to refer to the territorial skirmishes between Ukraine’s forces and Russian loyalists in the Donbas region. “I think he couldn’t do that. I think there are no people today in the world who could just have a word with Putin and end the war.”
Later on in the interview, Zelenskyy said that American voters “will choose the most worthy president” but he said that “specific groups and politicians calling for diminished support of Ukraine … does worry us.”
Other than Trump, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called for a peaceful resolution between Russia and Ukraine.
“We will offer to withdraw our troops and nuclear-capable missiles from Russia’s borders. Russia will withdraw its troops from Ukraine and guarantee its freedom and independence,” Kennedy’s campaign website says. “United Nations peacekeepers will guarantee peace to the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine. We will put an end to this war. We will put an end to the suffering of the Ukrainian people. That will be the start of a broader program of demilitarization of all countries.”
Trump, DeSantis, and Kennedy have not publicly responded to Zelenskyy’s comments.
Meanwhile, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in a recent Twitter video, claimed that federal prosecutors and Democrats have effectively colluded to try and stop Trump by arresting him in connection to the classified documents case last week. Carlson asserted that the reason why government officials as targeting Trump is because of his stance against U.S. foreign wars.
“It’s been inevitable since February 16, 2016,” Carlson remarked, referring to the day in which Trump said the intelligence community lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, launching the 2003 invasion. “That’s the day Donald Trump made a blood enemy of the largest and most powerful organization in human history, which would be the federal Government.”