Trump defends praise of Putin even as he calls Ukrainian president 'brave'

Former President Donald Trump defended his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday while also calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "a brave man" amid Russia's deadly invasion of his country

"He's a brave man, he's hanging in," Trump said of Zelensky in remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, even as he declined to back away from complimenting Putin as "smart." "The problem is not that Putin is smart, which, of course, he's smart," Trump said.

"The problem is that our leaders are dumb... and so far, allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity."

"Putin is playing [President Joe] Biden like a drum and it's not a pretty thing to watch," he continued.

The former President has repeatedly praised Putin in the days since Russian troops crossed into Ukraine and began launching rocket strikes against the country's capital of Kyiv

His comments on Zelensky come days after he lavished praise on Putin, calling the Kremlin leader "genius" and "savvy" in a radio interview

Those remarks were the latest of many instances where the 45th President has approved of, or admired, authoritarian rulers

Why did Trump defend Putin's praise even after calling Ukraine's president 'brave'? go full