NYT reporter suggests Putin didn’t take military action under Trump because he was unpredictable

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The New York Times‘ chief White House correspondent said Wednesday on MSNBC it was “a good question” of why Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in the military operation in Ukraine under the Biden administration, and not under Trump. 

Former President Trump said Tuesday that Putin’s aggressive actions in Ukraine would never have happened while he was president. 

“I know [Putin] very well. Very, very well [and] … this never would have happened … had I been in office, not even thinkable,” Trump said.

New York Times reporter Peter Baker said, “[Trump] said yesterday ‘this wouldn’t have happened when I was president,’ or somehow he was too tough …  It is a good question whether President Trump was volatile enough that President Putin didn’t know how he would react to, you know, something more aggressive in Ukraine.”

A Russian "Uragan" self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system launches a rocket during military exercises at the Opuk training area in Crimea, February 15, 2022. 

A Russian “Uragan” self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system launches a rocket during military exercises at the Opuk training area in Crimea, February 15, 2022. 
(Russian Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)

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Baker went on to claim on “Deadline: White House” that Trump was already doing Moscow’s bidding by “driv[ing] a wedge in NATO” by asking them to pay defense spending as well as not retaliating on Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Tensions are broiling between the West and Moscow amid the former Soviet country’s decision to recognize and roll into separatist regions in Eastern Ukraine. Biden said during a press briefing Tuesday that Putin was beginning an “invasion.” He said the stockpiles of blood on the Ukrainian border were an imminent sign of aggressive military intentions. 

“You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war,” Biden said about Russia’s actions.

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The Biden administration – along with the European Union – initially launched some sanctions on Russian oligarchs and banks but withheld the most crippling sanctions pending further action from Moscow, according to The Associated Press. The White House followed up with more sanctions on Nord Stream 2 pipeline, reversing a decision he made in May to lift sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, whose Russian parent company is Gazprom.

Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline are stored on the premises of the port of Mukran near Sassnitz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2020. 

Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline are stored on the premises of the port of Mukran near Sassnitz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2020. 
(Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP, File)

Trump went on to blast Biden for what he believed was a weak response, calling it “very sad.” 

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“But here’s a guy (Putin) that says … ‘I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent … and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.’ You gotta say that’s pretty savvy. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response … it’s very sad,” Trump said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. 
(ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

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Baker maintained that “It is a fair question to ask why he didn’t do it while Trump was in office given what close relationship the two had and a fair question to ask why [Putin] chose to do it now.” 

He suggested that Putin’s move into Ukraine was to solidify his legacy. 

“[Putin] seems to want is to be the leader who brought Russia back together, who reunited some of the empire … That has less to do with us and more to do with him and more to do with his sense of his own historical mission and drive,” he said. 

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