Donald Trump has been blasted for refusing to say he supported Ukraine to win its bloody war with Russia and was branded “Putin’s puppet” by Chris Christie.
The one-term president was repeatedly asked by CNN host Kaitlan Collins if he backed Ukraine in its 15-month conflict with Vladimir Putin’s forces, and repeatedly dodged the question.
“Donald Trump refused to say tonight that he wanted Ukraine to win the war with Russia. More proof that he continues to be Putin’s puppet,” the former Republican candidate for president tweeted.
Collins asked Mr Trump during the town hall from New Hampshire to say on the record that he supported Ukraine.
“I don’t think in terms of winning and losing, I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people and breaking down this country,” he told Collins.
She then asked him again if he wanted Ukraine or Russia to win the conflict.
“I want everyone to stop dying. They are dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying,” he replied.
Mr Trump also repeated his bogus claim that it would take him one day in the Oval Office to end the conflict.
“I’ll have that done in 24 hours, you need the power of the presidency to do it.” And he added: “You know what, I will say this, I want Europe to put up more money. They should equalise, they have plenty of money.”
And he boasted that the conflict would never even have happened if he had remained in office.
“If I were president this never would have happened and even the Democrats recognise that. Putin knew it would never have happened and his pipeline would never have happened, a lot of things would never have happened,” he said.
“All those dead people, both Russian and Ukrainian, would not be dead today, and all those cities that are blown up and disintegrated to the ground would not have happened.”
Mr Trump also tried to claim that he had “a very good relationship” with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Mr Trump was impeached for the first time over a call in which he tried to get Mr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden in return for weapons.
“I have a very good relationship with President Zelensky, because as you know he backed me up with phoney impeachment hoax number one when he said the president did nothing wrong. I was totally exonerated, by the way, a total waste of time and money,” said Mr Trump. Collins reminded viewers that the former president had been impeached by Congress.
Collins then asked Mr Trump if he still had “tremendous respect” for Vladimir Putin, as he claimed while president.
“He made a tremendous mistake. He is a smart guy…they want you to say he is a stupid person, okay, he is not a stupid person, he is very smart and cunning and Putin made a bad mistake in my opinion.
“His mistake was going in. He would never have gone in if I was president, we used to talk about it too.”
And he refused to answer if he believed Mr Putin is a war criminal for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
“I think it’s something that should not be discussed now, it should be discussed later,” Mr Trump said, suggesting it would make ending the conflict even more difficult.
“If you say he’s a war criminal it’s going to be a lot tougher to make a deal to make this thing stopped. If he’s going to be a war criminal, people are going to grab him and execute him, he’s going to fight a lot harder than he’s fighting under the other circumstance. That’s something to be discussed at a later day.”