Speaking to NBC News’ Kristen Welker for an interview published on Friday, Trump was asked about the recent praise from the Russian leader, who said last week that “Mr. Trump keeps saying he will resolve all burning issues within several days, including the Ukrainian crisis… Well, that would be good.”
“I like that he said that because that means what I’m saying is right,” Trump replied, referring to his stance on Ukraine, adding “I would get him into a room, I would get [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky into a room and I would get a deal worked out.”
However, in his remarks on Tuesday Putin actually went on to say that Moscow does not expect any substantial change in US foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia, regardless of who takes the White House after next year’s election.
“[Trump] was accused of having a special relationship with Russia, which is total nonsense... But he was the president who introduced the most sanctions against Russia,” Putin noted.
The former US president went on to reiterate vows to negotiate an end to the Ukraine conflict within “24 hours” should he win reelection next year, having previously stated, “I know Zelensky very well, I know Putin very well – even better – and I had a very good relationship with both of them.” He has also been critical of the billions of dollars in US military support to Kiev, urging Zelensky to “make a deal” with his Russian counterpart to bring an end to the fighting.
When pressed on how he would find a solution to the conflict, Trump declined to elaborate, only saying he would “make a fair deal for everybody.”
“If I tell you exactly, I lose all my bargaining chips. I mean, you can’t really say exactly what you’re going to do. But I would say certain things to Putin. I would say certain things to Zelensky,” he continued.
Though Trump faced near-constant criticism during his time in office for alleged “collusion” with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election, he insisted “there was nobody tougher than me with Russia.” He nevertheless stated that he “got along” with Putin “really well” during his presidency, saying “that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. He’s got 1,700 nuclear missiles. And so do we.”
Despite a string of criminal cases in multiple states over the alleged mishandling of classified documents, a purported hush-money scheme with porn actress Stormy Daniels and interference in the 2020 election, Trump is currently the front-runner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, consistently polling well ahead of his main competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Trump has denied all wrongdoing in each of the cases, while President Putin also recently weighed in on the matter, saying the criminal charges amount to the “persecution of a political competitor.”