- A former Trump advisor called Ukraine’s president a “puppet” and said Russia had been “too gentle.”
- Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor said the war could’ve “ended days ago” if Ukraine had conceded.
- President Volodymyr Zelensky has rallied Ukrainians to fight back against invading Russian forces.
A Trump-era defense advisor on Friday accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of being a “puppet” and said Russia had been “too gentle” in the early stages of its attack on Ukraine.
In an interview with Fox Business’ Stuart Varney, retired Col. Douglas Macgregor — who then-President Donald Trump appointed as a senior advisor to the secretary of defense — said there was nothing “heroic” about Zelensky, who has led his country’s resistance against invading Russian forces.
“The first five days Russian forces I think frankly were too gentle,” he said. “They’ve now corrected that. So, I would say another 10 days this should be completely over.”
Macgregor — who Trump also tapped to serve as ambassador to Germany in July 2020 before the nomination stalled in the Senate — said the war could have “ended days ago” if Zelensky had accepted what the Russians have sought, which he said was a “neutral Ukraine.”
“I think Zelensky is a puppet, and he is putting huge numbers of his own population in unnecessary risk,” Macgregor said.
Macgregor then laughed when Varney asked whether Macgregor thought Zelensky was a hero for leading Ukrainian resistance.
“I don’t see anything heroic about the man,” Macgregor said. “I think the most heroic thing he could do right now is come to terms with reality. Neutralize Ukraine.”
He continued: “This is not a bad thing. A neutral Ukraine would be good for us as well as for Russia. It would create the buffer that frankly both sides want, but he’s I think being told to hang on and try to drag this out, which is tragic for the people that have to live through this.”
—Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 5, 2022
Varney ended the interview by telling Macgregor that he disagreed with him.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — a conservative who in recent years has become one of Trump’s most ardent critics — on Saturday blasted MacGregor for his comments.
“Douglas MacGregor, nominated by Trump as ambassador to Germany; appointed by Trump as sr advisor to the Secretary of Defense, says Russian forces have been ‘too gentle’ and ‘I don’t see anything heroic’ about Zelensky,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is the Putin wing of the GOP.”
Macgregor’s worldview was also dismissed last week by the Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin after he said that the US shouldn’t help Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be able to seize parts of the country.
“We will not send our forces to fight, but we are urging Ukrainians to die pointlessly in a fight they can’t win,” Macgregor said. “We’re going to create a far greater humanitarian crisis than anything you’ve ever seen if it doesn’t stop.”
Griffin said Macgregor’s comments had many “distortions.”
“The kind of appeasement talk that Col. Doug Macgregor, who should know better — when he was in government, he was the one who was advising Trump to pull all US troops out of Germany,” she said. “That kind of projection of weakness is what made Putin think that he could actually move into a sovereign country like Ukraine.”
While congressional Republicans have overwhelmingly lined up behind Zelensky, Trump last month described Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine as “savvy” and “genius” and argued that the conflict wouldn’t have occurred on his watch.
Former Vice President Mike Pence during a Friday speech to Republican National Committee donors seemed to take a swipe at Trump over the issue.
“There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said during his remarks.
Zelensky has been applauded throughout the world as a hero for remaining in Ukraine as Russia moves toward the Ukrainian capital and amid repeated warnings that he’s an assassination target. He has called on Ukrainians to take up arms and defend the country from Russian forces, and many citizens from other countries — including the US – have sought to travel to the country to fight alongside Ukrainian troops.