John Bolton slaps down Trump over boast he could have stopped Putin
President Donald Trump's manner with Russian leader Vladimir Putin was in contrast to the anger he flashed at NATO allies. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)

In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, former Donald Trump national security adviser John Bolton poured cold water on his ex-boss's claim that Vladimir Putin never would have invaded Ukraine if he were still president.

Bolton, who has become a major critic of Trump after his ouster from the White House, claimed the former president's balking at sending weapons to Ukraine is a contributing factor to that state of play that is still ongoing due to the Russian president's unprovoked attack on a neighboring country.

With Trump now criticizing President Joe Biden over the invasion, and insisting that Putin would have never made a move if he had been re-elected, the Post's Antonio Fins wrote, "In interviews, officials and experts who closely watched what transpired in 2019 question whether Trump aggravated what was already a volatile international affairs challenge on the European continent by withholding military aid, roping Ukraine into domestic U.S. politics, guilt-by-association smearing of the country's new president and denigration of the NATO alliance."

According to Bolton, "I think all contributed to a precarious status for Ukraine, which would have continued in a second term [for Trump]."

The Post reports, that Bolton stated a peace-negotiating trip to Moscow by Trump would not pan out.

"He's not capable of it," Bolton explained. "This would require thinking through a policy and considering the pluses and minuses, the risks and costs involved. That's just not what he does."

Bolton added that Trump's withholding of $250 million in aid only exacerbated the Ukraine conflict.

"The urgency of the particular $250 million was that it was appropriated money that under the federal government's bizarre budget procedures would have expired on Sept. 30, 2019," he stated before taking up whether Trump truly believed that Biden was involved in wrongdoing in Ukraine that led to the blackmail attempt.

"You never can tell with Trump. His relationship with the truth is very tenuous and whether he believes it as a matter of fact, or whether he was using it for his own political purposes, I don't really know it was," he remarked.

As for the former president's antipathy towards NATO, Bolton suggested, "He [Trump] was very negative on the institution. I don't think Trump was pressing [the defense spending increase] to strengthen NATO, which is what the rest of us who supported him wanted. I think it was because he didn't feel they would, and that would give him further excuse to withdraw."

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