Mitt Romney Blames Trump Actions For Empowering Vladimir Putin

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Alongside other concerns, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) singled out policies of former President Donald Trump in a statement responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week. Romney credited Trump’s so-called America First stance with helping enable Putin’s aggression; throughout the former president’s time in office, America First wasn’t really just a slogan — it’s how the Trump administration operated, alienating allies and sometimes seeming to outright ignore aggression from those like Putin.

As Romney commented this Wednesday:

‘Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation. It is without justification, without provocation and without honor. Putin’s impunity predictably follows our tepid response to his previous horrors in Georgia and Crimea, our naive efforts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First.’ The ‘80s called and we didn’t answer. The peril of again looking away from Putin’s tyranny falls not just on the people of the nations he has violated, it falls on America as well. History shows that a tyrant’s appetite for conquest is never satiated.’

Romney added that the United States “must answer the call to protect freedom by subjecting Putin and Russia to the harshest economic penalties, by expelling them from global institutions, and by committing ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our national defense.” The Biden administration already announced economic restrictions after Russia recognized two regions of Ukraine as independent countries and revealed troop deployment plans for those areas, and following the beginning of the full-fledged invasion, further measures were swiftly on the way. Biden said in a late Wednesday (according to Eastern Time) statement that “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.”

Late Wednesday in the U.S., Trump blamed the “rigged election” for the Russian attack on Ukraine — in other words, he still sounds as out-of-touch with reality as ever. He tied the assault to the supposedly (but not actually) rigged election because of the Biden administration’s alleged “weakness,” although Trump is not — by any reasonable means — a credible source on what it means to stand up to Putin. After Russia announced its plans for those supposedly (but not actually) independent countries in Ukraine, Trump described Putin as “genius” for the moves, commenting that “Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper… That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”