Former U.S. President Donald Trump, a longtime admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has said that Russian president Vladimir Putin has been “somewhat weakened” by an aborted mutiny.
According to Trump, the front-runner in opinion polls for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, now is the time for the United States to try to broker a negotiated peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine.
“I want people to stop dying over this ridiculous war,” Trump told Reuters in a telephone interview on Thursday, June 29.
“You could say that he’s (Putin) still there, he’s still strong, but he certainly has been I would say somewhat weakened at least in the minds of a lot of people,” he said.
If Putin were no longer in power, however, “you don’t know what the alternative is. It could be better, but it could be far worse,” Trump said.
As for war crime charges levied against Putin by the International Criminal Court in March, Trump said Putin’s fate should be discussed when the war is over “because right now if you bring that topic up you’ll never make peace, you’ll never make a settlement.”
On Ukraine, Trump did not rule out that the Kyiv government might have to concede some territory to Russia in order to stop the war, which began with Russian forces invading Ukraine 16 months ago. He said everything would be “subject to negotiation”, if he were president, but that Ukrainians who have waged a vigorous fight to defend their land have “earned a lot of credit.”
“I think they would be entitled to keep much of what they’ve earned and I think that Russia likewise would agree to that. You need the right mediator, or negotiator, and we don’t have that right now,” he said.
“I think the biggest thing that the U.S. should be doing right now is making peace – getting Russia and Ukraine together and making peace. You can do it,” Trump said. “This is the time to do it, to get the two parties together to force peace.”
Trump added that China should be given a 48-hour deadline to leave a Chinese spy station on the island of Cuba 90 miles (145 km) off the U.S. coast.
He said if Beijing refused to accept his 48-hour demand for shutting it down, a Trump administration would impose new tariffs on Chinese goods.
“I’d give them 48 hours to get out. And if they didn’t get out, I’d charge them a 100% tariff on everything they sell to the United States, and they’d be gone within two days. They’d be gone within one hour,” Trump said.
When asked if the United States would support Taiwan militarily if China invaded the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.
“I don’t talk about that. And the reason I don’t is because it would hurt negotiating position,” he said. “All I can tell you is for four years, there was no threat. And it wouldn’t happen if I were president.”