Donald Trump appeared to criticize a decision by the US and Germany to provide tanks to Ukraine.
"FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES," Trump said on his social media platform.
Trump also suggested ending the war in Ukraine would be "easy," without elaborating.
Former President Donald Trump, whose first impeachment was linked to his dealings with Ukraine, on Thursday appeared to criticize the US and Germany over their recent decisions to provide battle tanks to Kyiv at a time when Russia is expected to launch another major offensive. Trump suggested offering tanks to Ukraine would lead to the use of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Trump said it would be "easy" to end the war, without providing any suggestions on how this would be accomplished.
"FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do," Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, said in a post on his social media platform Truth Social.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump referred to as a "genius" the week Russia launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has repeatedly made nuclear threats throughout the war. Western countries have accused Putin of reckless nuclear saber-rattling. Nuclear experts have expressed grave concerns about Putin's threats, as leading historians warning that the Russian leader's rhetoric and actions have presented nuclear dangers even greater than during the Cuban missile crisis at the height of the Cold War.
But many top military analysts and Russia experts also say that Putin's nuclear threats are largely designed to deter the West from continuing to provide Ukraine with crucial security assistance. The US and other NATO countries have sent billions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine, including vital weapons that have played a key role on the battlefield and wreaked havoc on Russia's forces. Ukraine recently pushed hard for the West to provide tanks as it looks to defend against the ongoing Russian invasion but also makes preparations to regain control of occupied territory.
Trump, who has routinely praised Putin, has consistently been a critic of US aid to Ukraine. The former president's first impeachment was tied to his effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into launching an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over unfounded allegations of corruption. At the time, Biden was a presidential candidate and Trump's top political rival.
As he pressured Zelenskyy to launch the inquiries, Trump simultaneously froze congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine as it continued to fight a war against Kremlin-backed rebels in the country's eastern Donbas region. Much of the fighting in the war Putin launched in late February 2022 has occurred in the Donbas, which is comprised of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions - two out of four Ukrainian territories the Russian leader illegally annexed in September.
Though Trump suggested it would be "easy" to end the war in Ukraine, that is not a view that is widely shared by experts or people with experience in diplomacy. Putin's decision to illegally annex four Ukrainian territories, declaring them as part of Russia, has made the possibility of talks to end the fighting extraordinarily unlikely. Russian forces do not fully occupy these regions, and Kyiv has been clear it would not agree to any peace terms requiring it to cede territory to Moscow.
"The fact that the Russians have annexed four [Ukrainian] provinces makes an agreement nearly impossible," Gérard Araud, the former French ambassador to the US and the United Nations, told Insider this week.
Speaking on Putin's goal of dividing the West to weaken support for Ukraine, Araud also said that "the Russians have always dreamed of having Trump back because in military terms the support of the Americans is really overwhelming compared to the support of the Europeans."
The US has provided more security aid to Ukraine than any other country - over $27 billion since Russia invaded. But a number of Republicans in Congress loyal to Trump have expressed opposition to continued aid to Ukraine, citing economic concerns.