Trump discusses Zelensky and Putin 'problem' in 2019
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The Ukrainian President confirmed in a video address on Sunday that Russia has launched its long-feared, full scale assault on Ukraine’s east. Speaking to his countrymen, Mr Zelensky said Russian troops have “begun the battle for the Donbas” which Putin’s troops have been preparing “for a long time”. He added that a “significant part” of the Russian army is now focused on seizing the east of the Ukraine. Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the Donbas for the last eight years, and the area is largely Russian-speaking.
The Kremlin announced recently that capturing the Donbas is its main goal of the war in Ukraine, after attempts to overthrow Kyiv failed.
Mr Zelensky said over the weekend that he has no plans to cede territory to Russia, but remains willing to have “at least some dialogue with Russia, if they’re capable and if we’re still ready”.
With no sign of Mr Zelensky speaking directly to his Russian counterpart any time soon, a staggering video has resurfaced today.
Footage from 2019 has emerged of Mr Zelensky looking spooked as former US President Donald Trump said he hoped the Ukrainian would be able to work things out with Putin.
Mr Zelensky met then President Trump at the UN headquarters in New York on September 25, 2019.
Mr Trump said: “I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem.
“That would be a tremendous achievement, and I know you’re trying to do that.”
Mr Zelensky looked like he had seen a ghost as Mr Trump uttered his words.
Journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted a series of short video clips from the 18-minute media availability, and noted “Trump shamelessly urges the Ukrainian president to ‘stop corruption in Ukraine — a phrase he’s used as code to investigate Biden”.
Mr Trump proceeded to blame predecessor Barack Obama for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
He said: “If you remember, you lost Crimea during a different administration, not during the Trump administration.”
Mr Zelensky interrupted: “Yes, so you have chance to help us.”
Mr Trump continued: “That’s right, I do.
“But that was during the Obama administration that you lost Crimea.
“And I didn’t think it was something that you should have, but that was done a long time ago.
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“I think it was handled poorly, but it’s just one of those things.”
A number of Twitter users reacted to the footage, with ‘Bearder Boomer’ tweeting: “Everyone seems to be focusing on Zelensky’s face when all I can think of is where we’d be if that incompetent a**hole was POTUS right now.
“And where Ukraine would be.”
Likewise, American comedian Dante tweeted: “Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth it’s like someone farted in an elevator!
“You can’t believe the audacity.”
Earlier during the Q&A, Mr Trump had called on European nations to do more to support Ukraine.
He said: “We are working with Ukraine and we want other countries to work with Ukraine.
“When I say work, I am referring to money, they should put up more money. We put up a lot of money.
“I gave you anti-tank busters that frankly… President Obama was sending you pillows and sheets and I gave you anti-tank busters.
“A lot of people didn’t want to do that but I did it.”
He added: “Germany and France, the European Union, they really should help you a lot more.
“I think together we will work on that. They have to feel a little bit guilty about it because they don’t do what they should be doing.
“[Ukraine is] very important to the European Union, you are very important strategically. I think they should spend a lot more helping Ukraine and they know that also.”
Mr Trump regularly spoke in glowing terms about Putin, and has stopped short of calling out the Russian leader himself, even amid the ongoing war.
He labelled Putin a “genius” in February, and later doubled down on the comments at a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago club, saying his invasion is “pretty smart”.
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