Trump and Biden accuse each other of ‘encouraging’ Putin
Trump and Biden accuse each other of ‘encouraging’ Putin

The rivals have traded blame for helping to start the conflict in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden and his rival, former President Donald Trump, have accused each other of emboldening Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. They attacked each other’s foreign policy record during the presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday.

Trump argued that Biden has damaged America’s reputation on the world stage, and that it was one of the factors that convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch the ongoing military operation in the neighboring country in February 2022.

“If we had a president that was respected by Putin, he would have never invaded Ukraine,” Trump said. “[Biden] did nothing to stop it. You know, I think he encouraged Russia [to] go in.”

The former president suggested that Putin “saw the incompetence” of Washington during the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2021. It was “the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country,” Trump said. “When Putin saw that, he said, ‘You know what, I think we’re going to go in [Ukraine],’” he added.

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When it was Biden’s turn to speak, he insisted that it was Trump who “encouraged Putin.”

“This guy told [Putin], ‘Do whatever you want.’ And that’s exactly what Trump did to Putin – encouraged him,” Biden said. Trump interjected, saying “I never said that.”

Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if the peace terms proposed by Putin to Ukraine are “acceptable to you,” Trump replied: “No, they’re not acceptable.” He then reiterated his claim that he would “have that war settled” if reelected. 

Biden stressed that the US must continue helping Ukraine and claimed that Russia could potentially attack a NATO country in the future. “If [Putin] takes Ukraine, what do you think will happen to Poland?” Biden told the audience watching at home. “I’ve never heard so much foolishness. This is a guy who wants to get out of NATO,” he said about Trump.

“He keeps talking about, go ahead, let Putin go in and control Ukraine, and then move on to Poland and other places. What happens then?”

Putin, for his part, has repeatedly said that Russia has no intention of attacking NATO members, and that it was “stupid” to suggest otherwise.

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