Former US President Donald Trump said the Wagner Group’s attempted insurgency had somewhat weakened Russian President Vladimir Putin, and added that it was time for the United States to try to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.
“I want the death to stop because of this ridiculous war,” Trump told Reuters in a phone call on Thursday.
In extensive comments on foreign policy, Trump, who leads opinion polls for the winner of the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said China should be given 48 hours to close what sources say is a Chinese spy base on the island of Cuba, 145 km off the coast of the United States.
With regard to Ukraine, Trump didn’t rule out the possibility that Kiev would be forced to cede some of its territory to Russia in exchange for stopping the war that began 16 months ago when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
He said everything would be discussable if he won the presidential election, but added that Ukrainians had fought a fierce battle to defend their land.
“I think they will be entitled to keep a lot of what they have achieved, and I think Russia will agree to that… We need the right mediator or negotiator, but we don’t have it at the moment,” Trump said.
US President Joe Biden and his NATO allies want Russia to withdraw from the lands it occupied in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine launched a counterattack with little success in driving out the Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last year proposed a 10-point peace plan that calls for Russia to withdraw all its forces.
“I think the biggest thing for the United States to do right now is make peace,” Trump said, “bringing Russia and Ukraine together and making peace… It can be done”.
“The time has come for that, for the two sides to sit together and impose peace,” he added.
He went on to say that Putin had been hurt by the attempted rebellion of the Wagner Military Group and its commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin, at the weekend.
“You could say that Putin is still around, he’s still strong, but I see he’s certainly become somewhat weaker, at least in a lot of people’s minds,” he said.
If Putin is no longer in power, he added, “you don’t know who the replacement will be… Someone better may come, but someone who is much worse may also come.
Trump expressed strong opposition to the Chinese spy base in Cuba and said that if Beijing rejected his request to close the base within 48 hours, his administration, if he won the presidency, would impose new tariffs on Chinese goods.
“I will give them 48 hours to get out… If they don’t get out, I’ll charge 100% on everything they sell to the United States, and they’ll be out in two days… They will be out in an hour”.
Trump didn’t comment on whether the United States would support Taiwan militarily if China invaded the self-ruled island, which Beijing claims.
“I’m not talking about it, because it would hurt my negotiating position… All I can say is that over the course of four years there was no threat… It wouldn’t have happened if I were president,” Trump concluded.