(The Hill) — Former President Donald Trump called the Russian invasion into Ukraine “a Holocaust” and urged Russia to stop fighting, a large shift in tone since last week when he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s remarks came during a Wednesday interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, widely seen as a Trump ally.
The former president said Russia has “to stop killing these people” and suggested a deal could be worked out to end the conflict.
His remarks were a part of a wide-ranging interview, which included criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which served as the opening note to President Joe Biden‘s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
After Trump said that “something could be done with [Russia] right now,” Bartiromo asked him “what’s the solution.”
“Well, you have to work out a deal. They have to stop killing these people,” Trump answered. They’re killing all of these people, and they have to stop it, and they have to stop it now,” Trump replied.
“But they don’t respect the United States and the United States is like, I don’t know, they’re not doing anything about it. This is a – this is a holocaust. This is a horrible thing that’s happening. You’re witnessing and you’re seeing it on television every night.”
Trump has repeatedly put out statements saying the conflict would never have happened if he was still president.
The former president has often complimented Russian strongman leader Vladimir Putin and held a widely-criticized summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki during his presidency where he said he believed Russia had not interfered in U.S. elections with Putin standing by him.
Just last week, Trump praised Putin as “smart” and “pretty savvy” for recognizing the two breakaway regions in Ukraine as independent, a precursor to the invasion.
Trump also won the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) straw poll for president last weekend amid the Russian invasion, underscoring his status as the favorite to win his party’s presidential nomination for 2024.
During the interview, Trump hesitated to say whether he believed Ukraine should be afforded membership into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance, saying it is a decision that’s going to have to be made.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday called for his country to be admitted. “Right now, it would be a lot easier to say yes than it would have been six months ago,” Trump said of the possibility.
Trump also lauded Zelensky regarding his 2019 phone call with the Ukrainian leader during his interview with Bartiromo, saying he was “very impressed by him.”
Trump was referring to a phone call that helped launched lawmakers’ first impeachment inquiry against the former president, in which transcripts of the call showed him asking Zelensky if damaging material on Biden and his son, Hunter, could be dug up.