Espreso. Global

Kirby: critical months for Ukraine

23 January, 2024 Tuesday

White House National Security Advisor John Kirby stressed that the coming months could be critical for Ukraine, as the Ukrainian military is forced to make difficult decisions in the absence of US aid

The statement by the White House spokesman is primarily related to the ongoing discussions in the US Congress about the conditions under which this aid should be allocated. As you know, the Republicans are linking the decision to allocate aid to Ukraine to a final compromise on US migration policy. However, it remains unclear whether the Republicans are willing to make such a compromise.

Ahead of the Republican primaries in New Hampshire, it is clear that the position of former US President Donald Trump is strengthening every day, and he is likely to defeat his only currently strong opponent, Nikki Haley, who has repeatedly called for continued assistance to Ukraine.

Just before the primaries, another important Republican candidate for the US presidency, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, expectedly withdrew from the race in favor of Trump, perhaps expecting the former US president to thank him with a vice presidential post if Trump gets the long-awaited nomination. This means a fairly simple thing - more and more Republicans in the US Congress will listen to Donald Trump in a situation where he is having an increasingly large impact on the future of the Republican Party. 

Even without running for office, the former president remained a man to whom Republican leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives had to listen, and after the resignation of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the inevitability of Donald Trump's run for the US presidency became apparent, now the former head of state can only be stopped by a court, not by Republican voters who continue to favor Trump. Republican senators and congressmen have realized that without Trump's support, they cannot expect to continue their political careers. 

Even if we imagine that the Republican minority leaders in the Senate, who are not as interested in prolonging their political careers as the much younger congressmen in the House, agree to vote for a compromise on US immigration policy that is important to Republican senators, there is a possibility that Speaker Mike Johnson, who is dependent on Trump and his supporters in the House, will refuse to put the bill to a vote and return it to the Senate.

This is a more or less realistic and logical development of events, which clearly looks disappointing for Ukraine. 

The administration of US President Joseph Biden is trying to both put pressure on Congress and cooperate with it. To put pressure, as we hear from John Kirby and other American honorable men who remind us that without American military and financial assistance, it will be very difficult for Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. Cooperate — when Biden makes unprecedented concessions to Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives on migration policy, not even in terms of his own presidency, but in terms of his entire long political career. 

However, as we can see, neither pressure nor compromise works on Republican congressmen, because they are looking closely not at the White House and Joe Biden, but at Donald Trump and his own political considerations. 

Trump himself, in my opinion, has already made his choice — not a single dollar for Ukraine: creating a situation that, in the former American president's view, will clear the way for him to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Trump wins the presidential election. Returning to the White House is imperative for the former US president to get rid of many of the charges that are currently pending against him in the courts.

Trump may hope that he will find a balance of interests with the Russian president that will lead to an end to the war in Ukraine, but like any person with an authoritarian mindset, Trump may wish that Ukraine itself would play no role in deciding its future, and would simply agree with the views expressed by the former US president in the White House, as well as with the decisions that Trump and Putin will make without Ukraine's participation in this settlement.

In order for the Ukrainian state and society to agree to this scenario, Trump needs Ukraine to have no hope of help, to act as a savior of Ukraine from an absolutely unavoidable catastrophe. And what kind of rescue this will be is not for Ukrainians to decide, but for Trump and Putin. 

Of course, this is a very dangerous development for Ukraine during the US election campaign. This is exactly what John Kirby is talking about when he refers to the difficult months. These are difficult months not only for the Armed Forces and the Ukrainian state, but also and above all for American politics.

After all, when Donald Trump wins the Super Tuesday primaries in early March, and this will certainly happen, it will become absolutely clear that Republicans need to pay attention exclusively to the opinions of this eccentric and unpredictable man who sincerely believes in the possibility of his own agreements with the authoritarian leaders of the modern world.

Of course, the most important question is what will happen when Trump is disappointed in these interlocutors, when he cannot find a common language with Putin and other dictators of the 21st century. It's hard to predict here: whether Trump will help Ukraine fight for its sovereignty and territorial integrity in this situation and increase aid to our country, or whether he will decide that it is best for him to remove himself from solving European problems and only witness all the complex processes that will continue to develop in Europe, commenting on them only during his briefings at the White House.

This is also an incredibly dangerous, but rather expected development if the old president, Donald Trump, becomes the new President of the United States in November 2024.


About the author. Vitaliy Portnikov, journalist, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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