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Trump appeared on the Full Send podcast for a wide ranging interview on his time as president, Russia’s war in Ukraine and his 2024 prospects
Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that he send former German Chancellor Angela Merkel a white flag as a ‘gift’ when she made a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
He told the Full Send Podcast that Merkel ‘surrendered to Russia’ when Germany granted the Kremlin-linked company behind the pipeline, which would have transported gas directly from Russia to Germany rather than routes that go through other countries like Ukraine, in 2018.
‘I preached loud and clear to Angela Merkel, you are making a tremendous deal by making this deal with Russia, with Nord Stream 2. And until I came along, no one knew what Nord Stream 2 was,’ Trump bragged.
‘I was telling her loud and clear — and publicly — and in fact, I sent her something as a little gift. It was a white flag. It was a flag of surrender. She said “But what is this?” I said, “That’s a flag of surrender”.’
Nord Stream 2’s critics had warned it could give Moscow outsized influence over the rest of Europe. Supporters challenged that the decision should be economic, not political.
But the pipeline was recently a flashpoint of Western resistance against Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, which he launched late last month.
Two days before Putin personally ordered the attack on February 24, Germany’s new Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the Baltic Sea project to punish the Russian autocrat for declaring two breakaway separatist regions of Ukraine as independent states.
The $11 billion project was finished in September but was frozen pending German and European Union certification.
Trump approved sanctions on the pipeline in December 2019, claiming it would make Berlin a ‘hostage of Russia.’
President Joe Biden waived those sanctions in May of last year in an effort to thaw relations with Europe. The project was already 95 percent complete at the time.
Trump said on Wednesday that he has not spoken to Putin since leaving office but that the Russian autocrat ‘spoke’ to Trump about invading Ukraine.
The ex-president caught criticism last week for praising Putin’s invasion as ‘genius.’
He told Full Send the autocrat would have ‘never’ invaded Ukraine when he was president.
‘I haven’t spoken to him since, but he was never, ever going to, certainly under the Trump administration — and I say zero chance, I don’t say like, I don’t think, zero chance he would have done it. And I spoke to him about it, zero chance he would have done it,’ Trump claimed.
‘He saw the weakness, he saw Afghanistan, that — the way, the incompetence of the withdrawal, the way they did it was so bad.’
Trump said Germany’s former Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) ‘surrendered’ to Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) when Germany granted Nord Stream 2 permits in 2018
Trump went on to say Putin ‘became a different man’ when he saw the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August last year.
‘He viewed the United States differently, he no longer respected the United States,’ Trump said.
Asked if he would look to challenge Biden in 2024, Trump was as cagey as always — but dropped yet another hint that he could seek re-election.
‘The campaign finance laws don’t really allow you to discuss that unless you’re going to literally go through a different process,’ Trump answered.
Campaign finance laws are in place for candidates to disclose the dollars they use during an election cycle to promote transparency. It’s unclear what specific law or ‘different process’ the ex-president was referring to.
He continued, ‘So I think a lot of people are going to be really happy. You guys might be really happy.’
‘I think a lot of people are going to be really happy,’ Trump said. ‘I’ll wait til — I have so many people wanting me to do it. I think, really, that a lot of people are going to be very happy.’
Merkel and Trump have been known to have a tumultuous relationship when they led two of the world’s wealthiest nations