ORLANDO, Fla., Feb 26 (Reuters) - Former President Donald Trump condemned on Saturday Russia's invasion of Ukraine and said he was praying for Ukrainians, switching tone from his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

Trump's remarks at the CPAC conservative gathering in Florida came hours after the United States and allies announced sweeping new sanctions that would kick some Russian banks off the main global payments systems and limit the ability of Russia's central bank to support the rouble.

Addressing an adoring crowd at an event that touts itself as the world's largest conservative gathering, Trump used his speech to bash Democratic President Joe Biden and again hint at a possible run for president in 2024.

Trump had irked some Republican party members by describing Putin's actions in Ukraine, where cities have been pounded by Russian artillery and cruise missiles, as "genius" and "pretty savvy."

Trump expressed empathy for Ukrainians and this time praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, calling him "brave" as he stays in Kyiv, the capital.

"The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all," Trump said.

Trump said that Putin took advantage of Biden's being "weak" to attack Ukraine. He also linked the invasion to the U.S. 2020 presidential election, a fixation of his, again falsely saying that fraud was to blame for Biden's victory.

"As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election was not rigged and if I was the president," he said, to which a woman in the packed audience responded: "You are the president!"

Trump has not confirmed whether he will run for president again in 2024, but has hinted at it heavily recently and did so again on Saturday.

"On November 2024, they (Democrats) will find out like never before. We did it twice, and we'll do it again. We're going to be doing it again, a third time," Trump said.

Democratic lawyer Marc Elias tweeted that Trump's words should trigger a "series of legal requirements related to his spend and disclosures."

Trump's fundraising operations have raised a cash pile of more than $100 million and he is criss-crossing the country holding rallies.