Fiona Hill says that Trump emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine by treating the country like a 'playground'
Fiona Hill criticized Donald Trump's approach to foreign policy, especially regarding Russia.
Hill said Trump's policies sent the message to Putin that Ukraine is a "playground."
Her comments come as the US warns that Russia is about to invade Ukraine.
The former White House Russia advisor, Fiona Hill, said that President Donald Trump's foreign policy emboldened Russia to the point where it feels it can invade Ukraine.
In an interview with CNN, Hill, an expert on Russia who advised Trump, addressed the contrasts between Trump's approach to foreign policy and President Joe Biden's.
She said Trump's foreign policy had not been driven by concern about the US national interest, but by personal interests and impulses.
"There's no Team America for Trump," Hill said. "Not once did I see him do anything to put America first. Not once. Not for a single second."
Hill recalled Trump's praise for Russia's authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as well as his disdain for NATO. She also mentioned his campaign to pressure Ukraine for manufactured dirt about Biden in the run-up to the 2020 election. The Ukraine pressure campaign saw Trump threaten to withhold military aid from the nation, which led to his first impeachment.
"All this did was say to Russia that Ukraine was a playground," Hill said, drawing a direct line to events today, as Russia has amassed a huge military force around Ukraine, prompting fears in the US and European countries that a military strike is imminent.
Hill shot to prominence when she testified during Trump's 2019 impeachment hearings, rebutting conspiracy theories promoted by Trump allies that sought to excuse Russia of blame for interfering in the 2016 election, and explaining how Russia was seeking to sow domestic discord in the US.
She has gone on to speak critically of Trump's approach to foreign policy, and has said there were close parallels between how Trump sought to cling on to power after his defeat in 2020 and Putin's style of rule.
Hill said in the CNN interview that Biden had managed to pull NATO allies together for a display of resolve in the face of Russian aggression, but warned that the crisis would likely drag on for some time, as Russia seeks to slowly exert pressure on Ukraine.
"The real challenge is keeping everyone together for a considerable period," Hill concluded. "It's going to go on a long time."
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