Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

The shadow of Trump looms over the NATO summit

By 37ci3 Jul9,2024

Ukraine’s future hangs in the balance as NATO leaders meet in Washington this week.

The summit is overshadowed by the prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House, despite pledges from alliance leaders to continue arming Ukraine to fight against invading Russian forces.

Western officials say that a Trump victory in November’s presidential election could lead to a sharp reduction in US aid to Ukraine and political pressure on the US to bow to Russian demands in any peace talks with Kiev.

Trump has long avoided criticizing the Russian invasion and questioned the value of the NATO alliance. His political allies are skeptical of the large US military aid packages to Ukraine.

Trump’s former national security aides they proposed a peace plan This will require major concessions from Ukraine, including giving up the possibility of NATO membership in the near future.

Trump offered no details on his position on Ukraine, other than to promise to end the war “before I get into the Oval Office shortly after I win the presidency.” However, he did not say how he would end the war.

On top of it June podcast, Trump was asked whether he would rule out Ukraine’s eventual NATO membership. He responded that pledging membership to Ukraine was “a mistake” and “why this war started,” comments that reflect Moscow’s rhetoric about the conflict.

Steven Cheung, communications director of Trump’s election campaign, said in a statement, “President Trump has repeatedly stated that the main priority in his second term will be to negotiate a quick end to the Russia-Ukraine war. President Trump believes that European nations should pay more for the cost of the conflict because the United States has paid significantly more, which is not fair to our taxpayers. “

“If Donald Trump was president, the war between Russia and Ukraine would never have happened. Very sad.”

Ohio Republican Senator JD Vance has spoken out against sending tens of billions of dollars worth of arms to Ukraine, considered a possible candidate for Trump. Vance, who opposed the aid package approved by Congress in April, argued that it would not be enough to change the course of the war and that the American defense industry failed to produce enough weapons To meet the needs of Ukraine.

Trump’s campaign has said that any policy proposals made by his supporters or former advisers are not endorsed by Trump.

European officials say exactly what Trump will do about Ukraine remains an open question, as his team has avoided giving any specifics about his plans. But they are worried.

Growing anxiety among European allies about a Trump victory is “completely understandable,” said John Herbst, a former ambassador to Ukraine and now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank. “Trump is something of a wild card.”

Ukrainian government officials seeking continued support from the United States have had to navigate a partisan minefield over the past year. they were disappointed That the issue of arming Kiev has become a game in America’s domestic politics.

They considered the Biden administration’s approach too slow and too cautious, delaying the arrival of much-needed weapons. But Western officials say they fear what a second Trump presidency could mean for their cause.

Career diplomat William Taylor, who was the ambassador to Ukraine during the time of President George W. Bush and briefly served as chargé d’affaires in Kyiv under Trump, said that Trump’s plans for Kyiv are a secret.

“They’re not quite sure — nobody’s really sure — what former President Trump is going to do,” said Taylor, now at the US Institute of Peace think tank.

Congress passed the military aid package in April after months of delay, when a group of pro-Trump Republican lawmakers blocked its approval. But when Congress finally voted on the proposal, Trump did not make a public statement. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., credited Trump’s public silence for helping aid reach the finish line.

A majority of Americans continue to support arming Ukraine, with 57% in favor, 32% against and 11% undecided, according to a new poll by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. The results of the survey were almost identical to the results of the survey conducted a year ago.

Photo: The destroyed building of the Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital
Emergency and rescue workers, doctors and others clear the rubble of the Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital after a Russian missile attack in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Monday.Roman Pilipey / AFP – Getty Images

While Ukraine was able to stop a major Russian offensive near Kharkiv with US and European weapons, its troops are outnumbered by Russia’s large ground forces, and it has difficulty maintaining its air defenses against Russia’s relentless missile and drone bombardment. .

On Monday, Russia launched its heaviest airstrike in Kiev in four months, hitting a children’s hospital in the capital and other targets in the country, killing dozens and injuring more than 120, Ukrainian officials said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that NATO member states are ready to continue spending about $43 billion a year on military equipment for Ukraine this week to help Ukraine defend itself.

Stoltenberg told reporters: “I expect that the allies will decide at the summit to maintain this level for the next year.”

Russia's war against Ukraine will be the main topic of the agenda at the meeting of NATO leaders in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Tuesday and Wednesday.
President Joe Biden shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11, 2023. Susan Walsh / AP

The Biden administration and other European governments are expected to announce new military equipment for Ukraine at a NATO summit this week, including more Patriot missile defense systems, fighter jets and other weapons.

As for Ukraine’s future security arrangements, US and European officials say they hope to issue a statement at the summit promising an “irreversible” path to NATO membership for Kiev.

The language may not be enough to secure Ukraine’s place in the NATO alliance if Trump is elected, said Tamar Jacobi, director of the Kyiv-based New Ukraine project at the Progressive Policy Institute think tank.

“If you want to be in the West, you have to be bound to the West and really, in the end, you have to be protected by the West.” And so, in a sense, NATO membership is the most important thing that Ukrainians are fighting for,” Jacoby said.

According to him, NATO countries should take a mandatory measure to protect Ukraine after possible negotiations between Kiev and Moscow, which will guarantee Ukraine’s final membership in the alliance.

“If ever there was a time for Trump to make the case for Ukraine joining NATO, this would be it,” Jacoby said.

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