Former President Donald Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 26 that the situation unfolding in Ukraine is an “assault on humanity.”
“The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. … We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine, God bless them all, God bless them. They are indeed brave,” he told the crowd at CPAC 2022, which began on Feb. 24 and concluded on Feb. 27.
Trump called the situation in Ukraine “an outrage, an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur” and said it wouldn’t have happened if he was president. During Trump’s speech, the crowd broke into a momentary chant of “four more years.”
People attend the Conservative Political Action Conference held at The Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2022. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The 45th U.S. president told the conference: “Under Bush, Russia invaded Georgia. Under Obama, Russia took Crimea. Under Biden, Russia invaded Ukraine. I stand as the only president of the 21st century on whose watch Russia did not invade another country.”
He said that during his administration and leadership, “the world was a peaceful place because America was strong.”
“I was proud to be the first president in decades who did not get our country into any wars—I got you out of wars,” he said.
President Joe Biden is perceived as “weak,” Trump said, asserting that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to attack Ukraine only after having witnessed the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
“I have no doubt that President Putin made his decision to ruthlessly attack Ukraine only after watching the pathetic withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the military was taken out first [and] our soldiers were killed, and American hostages plus $85 billion worth of the finest equipment anywhere in the world were left behind,” he said. “Putin is playing Biden like a drum.
“The problem is not that Putin is smart. … Of course he’s smart. But the real problem is that our leaders are dumb. So dumb. They so far allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity.”
NATO nations and the rest of the world are “not so smart [and] are looking the opposite of smart,” the former president commented.
“‘If you take over Ukraine, we’re going to sanction you,’ they say. Sanction! Well, that’s a pretty weak statement,” he said of NATO member nations.
“Putin is saying: ‘Oh, they’re going to sanction me, they sanctioned me for the last 25 years. You mean, I can take over a whole country and they’re going to sanction me? You mean, they’re not gonna blow us to pieces, at least psychologically?’”
Donald Trump, the 45th U.S. president, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando on Feb. 26, 2022. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)
The further Putin escalates matters and the further death and destruction caused, the more money he makes, “because oil prices keep climbing higher and higher and higher,” Trump said.
Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter of crude oil and largest natural gas exporter, accounting for 17 percent of the world’s natural gas and 12 percent of its oil. The attack on Ukraine has heavily impacted oil prices, Trump said, noting that when he left office, oil was at $36 a barrel, but now the price has hit $100. “And they think it’s going to [eventually hit] $150,” he added.
“It’s horrible because it’s a disincentive for [Putin] to disengage.”
Trump noted that under his administration, energy costs and gas prices were brought to record lows and America became a net exporter of energy for the first time in 70 years.
“With Biden, you get a war in Europe and a war on American energy. With Republicans, you get energy independence and energy dominance,” Trump said.
Separately, the former president said Democrats have been saying that “Ukraine’s sovereignty must be defended at all costs, even while they’re destroying our own borders and surrendering our own sovereignty.”
“We have a border that’s a catastrophe,” he said.
“The most important duty of every elected lawmaker is to protect and defend America. And that begins with protecting and defending America’s borders. … The Biden administration has spent months obsessing over how to stop an invasion of a foreign country thousands of miles away.
“I believe Americans deserve a president who will stop the invasion of our country also. And we had it stopped one year ago, we had it. You can’t defend Western civilization if you would not be able to defend your own civilization.
“And that means we need borders that work … we must immediately stop the influx of illegal aliens. Our country is being poisoned from within. The Biden administration cares more about helping citizens of a distant foreign nation than it does about our own citizens.”
Trump said that if Democrats “truly” want to fight for democracy abroad, they should start with Canada, where truckers and other citizens have been protesting against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. Trump called the situation a “tyranny” that “should shock and dismay people all over the world.”
“A line has been crossed. You’re either with the peaceful truckers or you are with the left-wing fascists,” he said.
“We stand with the truckers and we stand with the Canadian people in their noble plight to reclaim their freedom.”
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a journalist based in Australia.