Former President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s “genius” move following Russia’s recognition of two Ukrainian separatist regions as “independent,” and moving in troops.

“I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius,'” he said in a Tuesday interview on the conservative The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine – of Ukraine – Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”

“I said, ‘How smart is that?’ He’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper,” added Trump, who maintained a close alliance with Putin during his time in office. “That’s the strongest peace force. We could use that on our southern border. 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 the peace, all right.”

President Joe Biden‘s actions contrasted with Trump’s as he moved to levy a slew of sanctions targeting Russia’s banks, blocking the country from Western financing and sending more American troops to the surrounding countries. Additional sanctions will target Russian elites who are in Putin’s inner circle.

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In the interview, Trump reiterated the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him and that if he were in office, Putin would not have attempted an invasion of Ukraine.

“It never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable,” Trump said. “You know what the response was from Biden? He didn’t have a response.”

The former president has not yet announced an official bid for a second term in the White House.

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