trumpputin-second.jpg© Getty trumpputin-second.jpgIn a emailed statement sent out by his political action committee because he is banned from most social media platforms, Mr Trump accused “the RINOs [Republicans in Name Only], the Warmongers], and the Fake News” of “continuing[ing] to “blatantly lie and misrepresent my remarks on Putin”.Mr Trump has been on the receiving end of blistering criticism for his kind remarks towards the Russian leader, who last week ordered an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and has since seen the Russian economy crater in the face of US and EU sanctions.

One such critic, Utah senator Mitt Romney, said on Sunday it was “unthinkable” and “almost treasonous” for the ex-president — or anyone else — to take Mr Putin’s side in any way.

While the twice-impeached ex-president claimed his targets were allegedly misrepresenting his remarks “because they know this terrible war being waged against Ukraine would have never happened under my watch,” in reality his remarks are being reported accurately.

He most recently called the Russian dictator “smart” during a Saturday evening speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he called US and Nato leaders “dumb”.

The ex-president, whose 2016 campaign actively sought and benefited from out the illicit support of the Russian government, also attacked his successor — Joe Biden — by claiming without evidence that Mr Putin is “playing him like a drum”.

He also referred to Mr Putin as “smart” and “savvy” in his conduct of the war he launched last week in comments made on a right-wing radio talk show.

In the same statement, Mr Trump also falsely accused US and Nato leaders of doing “absolutely nothing” after Mr Putin officially recognised Russian-backed separatist governments in two regions of eastern Ukraine, a move meant to help him fabricate a casus belli to justify the invasion.

In reality, the US, Nato, and the European Union responded to Mr Putin’s recognition — and the subsequent invasion — by levying unprecedented sanctions upon Mr Putin personally, many of his Russian oligarch allies, and the vast majority of Russian financial institutions, including Russia’s central bank. As a result the Russian economy has been in free fall in recent days, with the Ruble plunging in value to lows unseen since the fall of the USSR.

Additionally, the EU took the unprecedented step of authorising funding for weapons to be given to Ukrainian forces fighting against Russia. One EU and Nato member country, Germany, has authorised weapons transfers to Ukraine and also pledged to raise defence spending above Nato’s desired threshold of two percent of gross domestic product, reversing decades of pacifist foreign policy.

Without any sense of irony, the former president described these developments as Mr Putin “getting everything he wanted”.

Trump angrily claims the media is lying about his repeated public praise of Putin (