Espreso. Global

Trump against Ukraine: the consequences. Vitaly Portnikov column

12 February, 2024 Monday

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, who is currently quite successfully vying for the "Republican" nomination in the presidential elections, has spoken out against any American aid to other countries


This statement by Trump is currently not received with as much interest as his words about when he was the President of the United States and reportedly told one of the NATO leaders that if these countries did not pay their respective contributions to the Alliance's budget, he would even encourage Russia to attack one of those countries.

His statement looks more like a provocative gesture that demonstrates what the American president can do to force allies to pay money. But the statement about helping Ukraine, Israel, and other countries may have its consequences in the coming days.

As it is known, the U.S. Senate is currently considering a bill that would condition aid to Ukraine, Israel, and other U.S. partner countries without linking it to changes in U.S. migration policy. This comes after a bill that would have simultaneously addressed changes in migration policy and aid to Ukraine and Israel was defeated in the Senate. Both Democratic and Republican representatives in the U.S. Senate expressed hope that they would be able to pass a new bill and resolve the issue with assistance to Ukraine and Israel.

“However, now, after Trump's words, I do not exclude that most Republican senators will again refuse to vote for this bill, which is so important for Ukraine. And I'm not even talking about members of the House of Representatives - I have serious doubts that after Trump's statement, House Speaker Mike Johnson will agree to put such a bill to a vote, even if a political miracle happens and it passes the Senate.”

What will the Republicans do then? It is politically unprofitable for them to refuse to help Ukraine. But Republicans also cannot go against Donald Trump's will, on whom the political prospects of most congressmen depend. After all, a situation may arise when you vote in favor of helping Ukraine in the Senate or the House of Representatives, and then, in the by-elections this year, you lose your seat in Congress. And, of course, no one wants that. Even more so, politicians like Mike Johnson do not want to lose the high positions they hold in the American establishment.

However, Trump has said that the United States should not provide gratuitous loans to countries that require immediate assistance from Washington. He's talking about a loan, not aid, and that those countries should pay back the money later. And the Republicans can thus seize on these words of their de facto leader to both help and not quarrel with Donald Trump: you see, Mr. President, we are doing everything you said, looking for ways that will then allow us to return American money to taxpayers. And this, of course, condemns Congress to many months of discussions about what such loan assistance should look like in principle, how a law should be drafted that would provide for Ukraine or Israel to return the American money that these countries need to fight terrorist Russia and terrorist Hamas, accordingly.

As for other American allies, this is also a rather serious question: under what conditions, for how many years, and by what mechanism. All of this, of course, can be resolved, but not in one week or two. And I admit that senators can discuss such an alternative way, which will allow, on the one hand, to help Ukraine and, on the other hand, not to anger Donald Trump, for months. And then there is the November 2024 presidential election.

“I am very much aware that with this policy and with this approach of Donald Trump to fundamental issues of international politics, at least until the US presidential election, the Congress will not be able to find a way to solve these problems with the help of Ukraine and Israel.”

And after the presidential election, everything will depend on who will be the next leader of the United States and what the majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives will look like.

And the discussions may be repeated again, in a new configuration. Thus, Trump knows what he is doing: he is deliberately slowing down assistance to Ukraine and Israel in order to escalate the situation and, if he wins the US presidential election, to act as a savior of the US allies in 2025, but on terms that will be understandable to Donald Trump himself or to Trump and Putin, who will be his main partner in negotiations to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

I have repeatedly had to explain that such a picture of the world can only exist in Trump's head or in his supporters' fantasies. In reality, there will be no real agreements with President Putin, and we will have to address the fundamental issues of helping Ukraine again, but in a completely new geopolitical situation that will exist in 2025. You can see that now the world is experiencing one month in five years literally in terms of events, news, crises, and all this will only accelerate.

One can only hope that Republican congressmen will listen not to Donald Trump, but to Joseph Biden, who urged them to show at least a little courage and start acting in the national interests of the United States, not in the interests of Donald Trump's election campaign and career. However, I don't have much hope for that courage.


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

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

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