Former President Donald Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to send military forces into Ukraine “genius.”

The news: Trump recently spoke to the “Clay Travis and Buck Sexton” conservative talk radio program broadcast in Tennessee.

  • He said he was watching the news Monday after Putin declared two areas of Ukraine as free republics and sent “peacekeeping” troops to those regions, according to NPR.

What Trump said: “I said, ‘This is genius,’” Trump said in the interview. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine, of Ukraine ― Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”

  • “So, 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 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 gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy. … I know him very well. Very, very well.”

The bigger picture: Trump’s comments come as tensions in Ukraine escalated this week after Putin ordered military troops Monday to “maintain peace” in separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • The U.S. issued sanctions against Russia in response to the recent actions, which President Joe Biden called “the beginning of a Russian invasion.”