Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for his positive comments on Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. His greatest sin consists of describing the invasion as "savvy and "genius." First of all, who really believes Putin's invasion was not a brilliant action? He has everyone over a barrel! Thanks to Merkel's decision to close down nuclear-power in Germany, at a time when Germany is still not in a position to rely totally on wind- or solar-power, leaves Germany vulnerable to Putin's threat to shut down deliveries of oil and gas. He also threatens to shut down oil and gas for other nations of the former Soviet Empire. No matter if you love him or hate him, he has pulled the rug out from under everyone, showing a belligerent side that no one expected, but that should have been anticipated. Putin rose through the ranks of the KGB and still has that Soviet preoccupation with the return of former satellite nations and other empire-type activities.
The other important point to remember here is that Trump is not President. He can say whatever he wants. Joe Biden is President. When did Trump ever attempt to behave tactfully? Whatever one thinks of the professions of politics and diplomacy, the wealth of a nation still depends on selling more stuff than it imports. He may have spoken untactfully, even for a non-office holder, but he clearly understands the geo-political ramifications of oil- and gas-dominance--better than anyone. Putin can do whatever he wants with Russia's oil and gas wealth. He is sitting in the catbird-seat, just like the OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) did during the 1970s. Democrats and Republicans fruitlessly blaming each other confirms that we are dealing with a fait accompli, in terms of a power-shift. Dictators are outliers, like rock musicians. They don't want to retire.
I doubt seriously that Trump cannot comprehend the dangers of a resurgent Russia, pursuing conquest like the former Soviet Union did. He simply speaks as a titanic ego, complimenting another titanic ego. As far as who is the boss of whom, one only has to look at the image of Trump and his "power-handshake" with Putin, from 2017, to understand that Trump does not take orders from Putin.