Former US President, Donald Trump has admitted that he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin was only trying to ‘negotiate’ when he sent troops to the Ukraine border and was ‘surprised’ when the Kremlin leader actually invaded the country.
‘I’m surprised — I’m surprised. I thought he was negotiating when he sent his troops to the border. I thought he was negotiating,’ Trump told the Washington Examiner during a Tuesday evening phone interview from his Mar-a-Lago estate.
‘I thought it was a tough way to negotiate but a smart way to negotiate.’
Trump, who seemingly developed a close working relationship with Moscow during his presidency, said Putin has ‘very much changed’ since the pair last worked together.
‘I figured he was going to make a good deal like everybody else does with the United States and the other people they tend to deal with — you know, like every trade deal. We’ve never made a good trade deal until I came along,’ Trump said. ‘And then he went in — and I think he’s changed. I think he’s changed. It’s a very sad thing for the world. He’s very much changed.’
The former American president has faced criticisms over his relationship with Putin and most recently for failing to criticize him in wake of the invasion.
Trump’s fellow Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former White House national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, have publicly denounced the Kremlin leader and said there would be no pity for Putin sympathizers in their party.