A Trump presidency would leave Ukraine to its fate

After meeting with Donald Trump at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Sunday that if the tycoon returns to the White House, "he won't give a dime to the war between Ukraine and Russia, so the conflict will end, because it is obvious that Ukraine cannot resist on its own”.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 March 2024 Monday 11:22
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A Trump presidency would leave Ukraine to its fate

After meeting with Donald Trump at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Sunday that if the tycoon returns to the White House, "he won't give a dime to the war between Ukraine and Russia, so the conflict will end, because it is obvious that Ukraine cannot resist on its own”. The leader of the Eastern European country said that Trump is a "man of peace", who could "completely put an end" to this war of attrition, which is stalled after more than two years of conflict.

The Republican tycoon has been avoiding focusing on foreign policy in his campaign speeches, but his positions are well known: America first, a flagship slogan during his presidency, implies a skepticism of the NATO framework and of the need to help allied countries at war. His incendiary remarks three weeks ago, in which he said he would "encourage" Vladimir Putin to "do whatever the hell he wants" with member countries that don't spend enough on defense, sparked outrage from some congressmen in his party and President Joe Biden, who in Thursday's State of the Union speech recalled that "Putin will not stop in Ukraine".

Orbán said Trump has "a detailed plan" to end the conflict. Something he has boasted about in his speeches, as he has assured that if he is president he will end the war "within 24 hours" thanks to his good relationship with Putin, of which he also boasts, and with whom Orbán has tune and met for the last time in October, with the rejection of European leaders. If that were the case, such an immediate peace would necessarily imply a cession of territory by Kyiv.

US aid to Ukraine, 75,000 million since the conflict began, has been exhausted, and the approval of a new package remains stalled in Congress due to the blockade of the hard wing of the Republicans, close to Trump. Among them, the president of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, who expresses his support for Ukraine, but refuses to keep the tap open in a conflict without clear progress on the battlefield.

Last week he opened to present his own aid plan, not negotiated with the Democrats, consisting of a series of loans that, unlike the current assistance, will have to be paid back. He did so following Trump's line of argument, which he published the same day on Truth Social that "money should not be given to any foreign country in the form of foreign aid. They must only be given in the form of a loan and with extremely beneficial conditions”. The tycoon justified the proposal by assuring that “if the country we help turns against us, or becomes rich in the future, the loan will be repaid and the money will be returned to the US. But never again should we give money without the hope of a refund”.

Republicans would bring this proposal to a vote after March 22, the scheduled date for the government shutdown if another extension or the entirety of the federal budget laws is not approved before then. But it does not look like it should succeed in the Senate: the Democrats have already expressed their rejection of this idea, since they consider that the aid should be maintained without conditions.

Orbán's visit to the US flouted the diplomatic rule that the leader of a foreign country should not meet with the president's opponent in office. But the guest was an authoritarian leader criticized by Biden and with whom the host fell in praise. "There is no one more prepared, smarter and better leader than Viktor Orbán," Trump said after their meeting, referring to the prime minister as "a controversial figure" because "when he says something will be thus, it does not admit of discussion”.

The meeting had the symbolism of a state visit: both met at the gates of Mar-a-Lago, which acts as Trump's presidential palace, and entered through a red carpet surrounded by US flags and Hungary. And it didn't go unanswered by Biden: "Do you know who Trump met with today in Mar-a-Lago? With a leader who declared flatly that he does not believe that democracy works and that he is looking for a dictatorship", he said at a campaign event in Pennsylvania. "I, on the other hand, see a future in which we defend democracy, and not in which we work to eliminate it."