Washington Post columnist blames Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine on Trump

Putin looks at America as weak: David Ignatius

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius blamed Russia’s ongoing aggression towards Ukraine on former President Trump, who has been out of office for nearly a year. 

Tensions have escalated in recent months between the two countries with the Kremlin overwhelming the Ukrainian border with military force with growing concerns that Russia will invade its neighbor in the coming weeks. 

But according to Ignatius, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions were “encouraged by Trump.”


“In this move toward defiance of international norms, Putin has been subtly encouraged by former president Donald Trump, a fellow traveler in recklessness,” Ignatius wrote Thursday. “We don’t need any conspiratorial analysis of Trump’s links with Russia to make this case. We just need look at the facts. Trump has been sympathetic to Putin in public statements for nearly a decade. As for Ukraine, Trump was so heedless of its security that he conditioned U.S. military aid on political favors in the famous 2019 phone call that resulted in his first impeachment.”

President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Friday, June 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ignatius went on to list various remarks Trump made about Putin and Russia over the years, suggesting his soft rhetoric towards the global adversary was emboldening. 

“Trump has been doing Putin’s work of destabilization for him. Russia historically has dreamed of strengthening polarization in the United States and weakening our democracy. That turned out to be Trump’s approach to governing — to the point of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election result. Now, as Putin contemplates a move into Ukraine, he beholds an America weakened by political division bordering on dysfunction. He sees a moment of opportunity,” Ignatius wrote. 


The Washington Post columnist went on to praise President Biden, who he credited for having “mobilized a coalition to punish Putin with severe economic sanctions if he crosses the line, while also seeking a diplomatic solution,” calling it a “path to de-escalation.”

“Trump supporters blame Biden for making Putin think America is in retreat. There’s no question that the world is worried about U.S. resolve after the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, but in the Ukraine crisis Biden has behaved with the right mix of firmness and diplomacy,” Ignatius wrote. 

Putin and Trump share the same playbook. Defy and disrupt; plead innocence when confronted; negotiate through intimidation. They act like pro wrestlers with fake theatrical bluster, but the danger is all too real. The rule of law is a noble concept, but it needs to be enforced,” he added. 

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrive to meet at the 'Villa la Grange', in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. 

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrive to meet at the ‘Villa la Grange’, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Critics slammed the column both on its focus on the former president and on the merits of the piece itself. 

“If you read only this piece, you wouldn’t know Joe Biden is president and has been for almost a year,” Versus Media podcast host Stephen Miller reacted, adding “Just incredible stuff.”

“Ignatius is one of the greats, but even the greats can be wrong,” Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake wrote. “This column attempts to blame Trump for Putin’s aggression at Ukraine’s border. It’s true that Trump’s rhetorical sycophancy towards Putin was awful. But his policies were strong.”

“He armed Ukraine when Obama wouldn’t. He enforced sanctions on Nordstream 2, when Biden doesn’t. He appointed hawks to his nat sec cabinet. He shut down Russia’s consulate/spy station in San Francisco. He withdrew from INF and recognized Juan Guaido,” Lake continued. “So yes, it’s fair to criticize Trump’s rhetoric as provocative and dangerous. But Biden is the president now. Putin’s brinksmanship is challenging Biden. And Biden’s response is to offer diplomatic concessions in exchange for de-escalation.”

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @JosephWulfsohn.

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