President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC22) in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, February 26, 2022. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump spoke for 85 minutes during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, placing fault for the aggression on the policies of President Joe Biden.
Trump seemed to largely downplay the invasion of Ukraine, telling his supporters that "the Biden administration cares more about taking care of citizens of a distant foreign nation than our own citizens."
"Biden has obsessed for months over how to stop the invasion of a foreign country thousands of miles away," Trump said. "You can't defend western civilization if you would not be able to defend our own civilization."
The former president said that Democrats believe "Ukraine sovereignty must be defended at all costs" but that the U.S. has "a border that's a catastrophe."
"Under Joe Biden we are losing our country no different than had we lost it in a war," Trump said.
Trump said that Russia would not have invaded Ukraine if he was president because under his administration "Russia respected America just like every other country respected America and they really respected us a lot."
"Joe Biden is weak," Trump said. "And when you have a weak president who is not respected by other nations you have a chaotic world. And this world has not been as chaotic since World War II."
Trump said that he had "no doubt" that Russian President Vladimir Putin had decided to invade Ukraine because of the "pathetic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan."
The Afghanistan withdrawal came after the Trump administration had signed an agreement with the Taliban in 2020 promising to fully withdraw troops by May 2021. The removal of troops from Afghanistan was completed under the Biden administration in August 2021.
"Afghanistan was a surrender for no reason whatsoever," Trump said Saturday.
Trump said in his speech that he remains the only U.S. president of the 21st Century under which Russia has not invaded another country.
"Under [former President George W. Bush], Russia invaded Georgia. Under [former President Barack Obama], Russia took Crimea. Under Biden, Russia invaded Ukraine," Trump said. "I stand as the only president in the 21st Century under whom Russia did not invade another country."
Trump also praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky just moments before calling Putin a "smart" man who was allowed "to get away with the travesty and assault on humanity" by the Biden administration.
"The president of Ukraine is a brave man, he's hanging in, a brave man. During the impeachment ... the president of Ukraine said I did nothing wrong. I called him up to congratulate him on his victory," Trump said.
"Putin is saying, 'Okay, I can take over a whole country and they're going to just sanction me?' ... The problem is not that Putin is smart. The real problem is that our leaders are dumb."
Trump added that the cost of the war for Putin "is very small" compared with the "money they're taking in." It was not immediately clear what Trump meant as Russia has been aggressively sanctioned and excluded from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network.
Trump also blamed rising energy prices on the cancellation of U.S. oil and gas leases as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline by the Biden administration, rather than on the war in Ukraine.
"He enriched Putin by approving the Russian pipeline which has really been at the core of much of the problem we have right now," Trump said.
Earlier this week, Biden said he would impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connecting Russia and Germany in a reversal of his decision to waive sanctions on the pipeline in May 2021.
"I got along with Putin. ... I'm the one who ended his pipeline. He said, "you're killing me with this pipeline." Nobody was as hard on Russia as I was," Trump said Saturday.
"With respect to what's going on, it would have been so easy for me to stop this travesty from happening. He understood me. Someday I will tell you exactly what we talked about. It's no secret he had an affinity for Ukraine."
During the speech, Trump also ripped Biden for his nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman on U.S. Supreme Court. "A radical left zealot has been nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States," Trump said.
He also touted his Truth Social media platform "which is trending at the top all over the place" and expressed support for podcaster Joe Rogan amid his Spotify scandal.
Trump also criticized Canada for "tyranny" for breaking up recent trucker protests over COVID-19 restrictions.
"They have been slandered as Nazis, racists and terrorists. These are the names they've been called. They've been arrested and charged with phony crimes," Trump said.
"You're either with the peaceful truckers or you're with the left-wing fascists. We stand with the Canadian truckers to reclaim their freedom."
He also criticized the January 6 commission for its investigation into the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year as Congress worked to certify the votes of the electoral college.
"They're continuing their evil persecution of me, my family, my staff and you," Trump said.
He then repeated false claims that people were stuffing ballot boxes and that hundreds of thousands of votes in swing states were the result of fraud.