White House Hits Back at Donald Trump for Praising Putin's 'Genius' on Ukraine

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has hit back at former President Donald Trump for describing Russia's recognition of two breakaway regions in Ukraine as "genius."

Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration was trying not to take advice from people who praised President Vladimir Putin—and criticized some of Trump's previous statements on Russia and Ukraine.

Putin signed decrees on Monday recognizing the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk and People's Republic of Donetsk in the east of Ukraine. The move was approved on Tuesday by the Russian parliament, the Duma.

Trump described Putin's recognition of the breakaway regions as "genius" and "pretty savvy" in a radio interview on Tuesday.

Psaki was asked about the former president's comments at a White House briefing on Tuesday evening.

She replied: "Well, 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; expresses an openness to lifting sanctions about the seizing of territory in Crimea; or, at any point in time, told leaders of the G7 that Crimea is a part of Russia, regardless if they are a former president.

"So, there's a bit of a different tactic, a bit of a different approach."

Psaki was referring, in part, to a 2018 report that Trump had told G7 leaders at a summit dinner that Crimea was part of Russia because people there speak Russian.

"And that's probably why President Biden, and not his predecessor, was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against—against Russia's aggression," the press secretary added.

Psaki was also asked if Trump's comments could make support for Ukraine a more partisan issue among the U.S. public and said that was "up to members of the Republican Party."

The former president told talk radio hosts Clay Travis and Buck Sexton on Tuesday that the situation with Russia "never would have happened" if he was still in the White House—but also praised Putin.

"I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius,'" Trump said. "Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine—of Ukraine—Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful."

Trump went on: "Here's a guy that says, you know, 'I'm gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent'—He used the word independent—'and we're gonna go out and we're gonna go in and we're gonna help keep peace.' You gotta say that's pretty savvy," Trump said.

Newsweek has asked former President Trump's office for comment.

Photo Composite Shows Trump and Psaki
A composite image shows former President Donald Trump and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Psaki has hit back at Trump for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. Getty Images