Home News Worried about Trump’s return to Ukraine, some Europeans now try outreach

Worried about Trump’s return to Ukraine, some Europeans now try outreach


While many Europeans worry that a second term as president for Donald Trump could end U.S. support for Ukraine, some of Russia’s most ardent enemies are taking a different tack: courting Trump’s camp.

To that end, Lithuania’s ruling party, a staunch supporter of Ukraine, organized a meeting last month between Ukrainians, Baltic politicians who want to increase military spending to counter Russia, and a group of former Trump administration officials. Also in attendance were members of pro-Trump groups such as the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative group skeptical of helping Ukraine.

Leading the Ukrainian participants was Alexander Merezhko, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee and an ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky. He said reaching out to the Trump campaign was simply an admission that Ukraine was vulnerable to the quicksand of American politics.

“We cannot fight Biden or Trump as we fight for survival,” Mr Merezhko said. “If we make the wrong bet, we risk losing our country.”

Trump has yet to detail his plans for Ukraine after re-election, but many of his supporters Strongly opposed Help the country fight against Russia.

Merezhko and other attendees said the outreach focused on discussing what a second Trump administration might mean for Ukraine and the future of NATO.

They said a Trump supporter wanted to know why American taxpayers should be footing the bill for the war in Ukraine. Supporters of aid have urged Ukraine and its Baltic backers to frame aid for Russia in economic terms to fit Trump’s transactional foreign policy.

“Helping Ukraine can provide jobs for Americans,” Mr. Merezhko said he told experts at the conference from the Heritage Foundation and the Institute for American Priorities, another Trump-aligned think tank in Washington.

Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies Estimated About 60% of the $113 billion approved by Congress to help Ukraine will be used to purchase American-made weapons and American military personnel.

Lithuanian MP Zygimantas Pavilionis, who organized the meeting, said Ukraine and his supporters should not confront Trump and his supporters but should be friends with them, explaining, “The United States has huge interests in confronting Russia.”

However, many European leaders and politicians have been struggling to come to terms with the prospect of Trump being re-elected as president since he won the Iowa caucuses in January.

Alicia Kearns, a Conservative member of the British Parliament and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Totally exciting” American voters may re-elect the man she labeled sexual abuser and criminal defendants being prosecuted.

But she also reached out to the Heritage Foundation, visiting the organization’s Washington offices this year with a group of European lawmakers. Ms. Kearns did not respond to a request for comment.Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron Meet Mr. Trump he himself.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, a staunch supporter of Ukraine, met with the former president in New York on Wednesday to discuss NATO and Russia’s incursion. Mr Duda’s chief of staff described their conversation as “very good”. Trump, who had a very good relationship with Poland’s right-wing president during his presidency, said he was “always behind Poland.”

By contrast, Trump’s relationship with Zelensky has been overshadowed by the former president’s anger over the incident. His 2019 impeachmentThe focus is on accusations that he used U.S. military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter.

Concerns about Trump’s return are strongest in Eastern European countries, where they fear his movement will stray away from Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy. Mr. Reagan was praised in the former communist east for the role many believed he played in overthrowing the Soviet Union.

Poland’s centrist Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a fierce political rival of President Duda, expressed angry frustration in February when pro-Trump Republicans in Congress blocked a $60.1 billion aid package to Ukraine. “Shame on you,” Mr. Tusk said. “Ronald Reagan must be turning in his grave today.”

The only leader in the region to publicly cheer Trump’s victory and end to support for Ukraine is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Orban claimed after meeting the former president in February that Trump told him he would “not give Ukraine a cent” if he won in November. But it’s unclear whether Trump actually said that or, as many suspect, Mr Orban was projecting his own views onto the former president. A spokesman for Mr. Trump had no comment.

Robert Wilkie, a participant in the Vilnius meeting and Trump’s former veterans affairs secretary, downplayed Orban’s comments. “Just look at Trump’s record,” he said. “When he was president, the Ukrainians got weapons, while Putin stayed on his side of the border.”

Mr. Wilkie added that Ukraine and its supporters should not panic but instead demonstrate that they are on the front line against one of the three great powers on earth that is more than willing to replace the United States and, if necessary, destroy it. “. These countries are Russia, Iran and China, he said.

Kurt Volcker, the U.S. special representative for Ukraine during President Trump’s term, said he also expressed doubts about Orban’s claims.

“My advice to all my European friends is, when it comes to the possibility of Trump being re-elected, don’t make any assumptions about his policies,” Volcker said in an interview during the latest election. Through Eastern Europe.

He said avoiding speculation about Mr. Trump’s plans for Ukraine was especially important for those in Europe who, unlike Mr. Orban, were alarmed by the prospect of the former president’s return. “If you dislike Trump because of his personality and complain about him publicly, you are setting the stage for disaster,” Mr. Volcker added.

The belief that Trump and his allies could be swayed over Ukraine was the basis of the March rally in Vilnius.

Organizer Pavinis said that while “Trump is a little crazy and you never know how he’s going to react,” his return to the White House could be better for Ukraine than many expect.

Pavelis said he was surprised by the isolationist sentiment within the Trump movement during a visit to Washington in January. But he added that as president, Mr Trump would be “much better for the interests of our region” than Mr Obama, who refused to send arms to Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.Mr. Trump reversed that policy and Fires Javelin anti-tank missiles. He also added U.S. military presence on NATO’s eastern flank.

Pavelis said Ukraine and its allies need not be bothered by Trump’s campaign promise to end the war in Ukraine “within 24 hours,” but need to understand that Republicans are more concerned about containing China and Iran than saving Ukraine or Strengthen NATO. .

He said that made it necessary for Ukraine and its European backers to build bridges with the Trump camp and present it with a simple argument: “Stop Russia and you stop China and Iran,” he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made the same claim.In January, he visited the Heritage Foundation, which According to its president Kevin, its mission is. D. Roberts is “institutionalizing Trumpism.”

“Ukraine must win” Mr. Stoltenberg said, To place this war in the context of China, China’s challenge to U.S. power is a major focus of Trump’s foreign policy. Stoltenberg said “China is paying close attention” to what is happening in Ukraine.

“China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are increasingly aligned,” he said, arguing that “while China is the most serious long-term challenge, Russia is the most immediate challenge.”

Before Stoltenberg spoke, however, Roberts made clear that Ukraine could be a tough sell. “Heritage does not and will never support prioritizing foreign borders over our own,” he said.

But others in legacy organizations support Ukraine against Russia, as do some Trump-aligned experts at the Institute for American Priorities, such as Mr. Wilkie.

“America first doesn’t mean America only,” Mr. Wilkie said. He added that other supporters of the Baltic states and Ukraine had nothing to fear from a second Trump presidency.

“The fact is we enjoyed four years of peace in that part of the world, but then he left office and everything exploded,” Mr Wilkie said. “This is no coincidence.”

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