Former President Donald Trump claimed Monday that a conversation he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin delayed the country’s invasion of Ukraine for several years.
Trump made the claim during an exclusive interview on Fox News’ “Special Report,” describing the conversation to anchor Bret Baier, in which he told Putin an invasion would be a “catastrophe,” and that there would be “hell to pay.”
“With Putin, I have a very good relationship. I mean, I haven’t spoken to him in a long while, but I had a very strong relationship,” Trump said when asked how he would end the war within 24 hours, as he’s stated on numerous occasions.
When asked about the invasion, the former president said of Putin: “He wouldn’t have done it if it were me. He did it after I left.”
“I thought he might do it,” Trump continued. “Look, I talked to him. I said, if you do it, there’s going to be hell to pay. It’s going to be a catastrophe. Don’t do it.”
Putin initially did not believe Trump would take any action, according to Trump, but he pushed back: “I told him I was going to do something. He said, ‘No, no, no, you will not do that.’ I said, I will, Vladimir, I will do it. I’m going to do it.”
Trump, also a 2024 presidential candidate, said that Putin believed “maybe 10%” of what he was saying, but that 10% was “all you needed” to stop the invasion from happening. “It was only after I left [office] that you started hearing about this,’ he added.
When asked whether he thought Ukraine was a separate country from Russia, Trump stated it was, but that it used to be one country, and “Putin liked it that way.”
As for the current conflict, the presidential candidate said he would not weigh in on what might be involved in a negotiation between the two countries — such as Russia keeping control of Crimea — as it would “impede a negotiation.”
But, he said he could negotiate a resolution “within 24 hours.”
“But I’m telling you, within 24 hours – that’s what I did. I became very rich by doing deals. Very rich. And you know what? Much more so than people even understand. And that’s what I do,” Trump said.
“I would have a deal done in 24 hours from the time we started. And I would tell Zelenskyy something and I would tell Putin something, and I’d get him into a room, and I’d tell him again, and again,” Trump said.
He added: “I would have a deal done very quickly. And you know what? The death would stop, and the destruction would stop because, look, Ukraine has been wiped out.”
Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine has lasted more than 480 days.