Donald Trump's Praise of Putin 'Despicable,' Says Former Mike Pence Advisor

Former White House official Olivia Troye has condemned "despicable" remarks by Donald Trump after he praised Vladimir Putin's military strategy.

Troye, a Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, hit out at Trump for calling Putin "very savvy" after the Russian president announced Moscow's recognition of the independence of two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.

Putin made the declaration while stating that Russian troops will be sent to the regions under the guise of "peacekeeping operations."

While the White House and the EU described Putin's actions as a violation of international law and a pretext for an invasion, Trump said Putin's move was "genius" and "very savvy."

"I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine… Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful," Trump told The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show on Tuesday.

"I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's gonna go in and be a peacekeeper," Trump said. "We could use that on our southern border. That's the strongest peace force I've ever seen.

"Here's a guy who's very savvy," Trump added. "I know him very well. Very, very well."

In a tweet reacting to the comments, Troye said: "Absolutely despicable that Trump, his loyal pundits & many Republicans remain an asset & mouthpiece for Russian propaganda—Even more abhorrent that a fmr U.S. President would praise Putin's tyrannical actions on Ukraine & suggest them as a strategy for use on our Southern Border."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also criticized Trump for praising Putin after the Russian president signed decrees recognizing the People's Republic of Luhansk and People's Republic of Donetsk.

"As a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy, which I believe is what happened there," Psaki told reporters when asked about Trump's remarks.

Psaki also made reference to reports that Trump told G7 leaders in 2018 that Crimea—the territory which Russian troops annexed from Ukraine in 2014—was part of Russia because people spoke Russian there.

"That's probably why President Biden, and not his predecessor, was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against Russia's aggression," Psaki said.

President Joe Biden described the arrival of troops in the Donbas region as "the beginning of a Russian invasion." In response to the military action, Biden ordered sanctions against Russia, which aim to hamper its ability to conduct business in the West.

"As Russia contemplates its next move, we have our next move prepared as well. Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression," Biden said.

Trump has been contacted for comment.

Olivia Troye trump
Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. Olivia Troye has condemned "despicable" remarks from Trump after he praised Putin ahead of a potential invasion of Ukraine. YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images