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Trump Tells Americans to 'Pray' After Putin Reveals Nuclear Weapons Plan

Newsweek 3/27/2023 Andrew Stanton
Above, a split image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former President Donald Trump. Trump on Monday urged his supporters to “pray” after Putin announced plans to place nuclear weapons in Belarus over the weekend amid rising tensions with the West. © Contributor/Getty Images; Brandon Bell/Getty Images Above, a split image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former President Donald Trump. Trump on Monday urged his supporters to “pray” after Putin announced plans to place nuclear weapons in Belarus over the weekend amid rising tensions with the West.

Former President Donald Trump called on Americans to "pray" after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his latest plans for his country's nuclear weapons over the weekend.

Putin announced on Saturday plans to place nuclear weapons in Belarus for the first time in decades as Russia's relations with the West continue to sour amid its invasion of Ukraine. The conflict has long sparked concerns of escalation, with fears that Russia could eventually use nuclear weapons in the ongoing war. Russia, on the other hand, has accused the West of inflaming tensions through its support for Ukraine.

The Russian leader's nuclear decision sparked quick condemnation from critics and anti-nuclear advocates, who viewed Putin's move as potentially escalating tensions. It came after the United Kingdom gave Ukraine armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium, which Russia has falsely equated to arming them "with a nuclear component."

Trump, who is running for the presidency in 2024 again, spoke out about the development Monday morning in a post to his social media platform, Truth Social.

In this post, the former president sought to blame President Joe Biden's administration for the "situation."

Biden's handling of the Russia-Ukraine has been subject to criticism from Republicans, who have said his administration's approach to foreign policy is weaker than his predecessor. Some conservatives have also taken issue with Biden providing Ukraine weaponry in order to combat Russia. The issue of Ukraine aid has divided the GOP, with other Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, praising the aid for Ukraine.


The ex-president urged his supporters on the platform to "pray" in response to Putin's announcement.

"Here we go!!! Just as I predicted, now we're playing with the "BIG STUFF." The "N" WORD is now being used, front and center," he said, referring to his phrase for the word "nuclear."

Trump continued: "This situation was caused by us - It's what happens when you have incompetent people running your government. All I can say to you right now is, PRAY!"

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst told Newsweek that Putin will "take some heart" from Trump's remarks.

"Putin is hoping he will outlast the West and that eventually the West will grow tired of providing the weapons Ukraine needs to at least stalemate Russia, if not defeat it on the battlefield," Herbst said. "Putin will take some heart from former President Trump's latest statement, and that's unfortunate."

William Pomeranz, director of the Wilson Center's Russia- and Eurasia-focused Kennan Institute, told Newsweek that former presidents typically do not criticize their successors on matters of foreign policy, but that Trump has "never upheld that view." He warned that his statement could indicate to Putin a fracture in the U.S. stance on Ukraine.

"So in the sense that it's not a united front from the United States in support of Ukraine, Trump's statements undermine an attempt to have a united policy in Ukraine," Pomeranz said.

He emphasized that Putin's announcement comes as he faces new pressure after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest this month on war crimes charges. He said the warrant limits Putin's ability to be an "international global player" as "his ability to travel internationally is significantly hampered."

Trump has been an outspoken critic of the Biden administration's foreign policy, previously warning that it could lead to nuclear war. He has also touted his relations with U.S. adversaries, such as Putin, as a success of his administration. In January, the former president warned that a weapons package sent to Ukraine could compel the Kremlin to launch nuclear attacks.

"FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!" Trump wrote at the time.

Amid concerns that nuclear weapons in Belarus could escalate the Ukraine war, the State Department has said it is monitoring the situation but does not believe Russia has immediate plans to use nuclear weapons.

"We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon," a State Department spokespersons said in a statement to Newsweek on Saturday. "We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance."

Newsweek reached out to Trump's campaign for comment via email.

Update 3/28/23, 2:07 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information.

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