After fighting over Ukraine aid, Trump says Biden will ‘give’ Ukraine to Putin

For months, President Biden has rallied global leaders to provide more military aid to Ukraine and pressured Congress to pass a multibillion-dollar aid package to help the country defeat Russian aggression. Former President Donald J. Trump is undermining that effort, pressuring Republicans to thwart it.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Trump tried to flip the script, suggesting he would do more to protect Ukraine than Mr. Biden, who he said would cede Ukraine as a gift to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.

Speaking at a campaign event in North Charleston, SC, Mr. Trump said that, under a Biden presidency, Mr. Putin would “give him everything he wants, including Ukraine. It’s a gift. He has a gift.”

Then Mr. Trump — who often refers positively to Putin as an authoritarian strongman and who acknowledged in his speech that they were getting along — doubled down, saying that Mr. Biden would “give” Ukraine to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly pledged to help Ukraine defend itself “as long as necessary,” promising that “our commitment to Ukraine will not weaken.” Mr. Trump, by contrast, said earlier that he would consider the possibility of Russia “taking over” parts of Ukraine in an agreement to end the war.

A day earlier, the Senate, in a bipartisan vote, approved an additional $60.1 billion in aid to Kiev to help it fight the Russian invasion, part of a long-debated foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel.

After the Senate vote, Biden accused Trump of pandering to Russia. Mr. Biden has previously argued that aid to Ukraine is necessary to prevent Mr. Putin to entrench himself in the war and that failure to help could end up emboldening Putin to attack NATO allies, which could draw the United States into direct conflict with Russia.

But the effort faces significant resistance from House Republicans, many of whom have been emboldened by Trump’s “America First” foreign policy stance and his criticism of campaign laws.

Earlier this week on social media, Mr Trump said it was “stupid” for the United States to offer foreign aid to countries instead of loans. And he has repeatedly criticized the United States’ involvement in the war in Ukraine, arguing that Europeans worried about Russian aggression should spend more on fighting it.

Mr. Trump has often argued that the mere fact of his presidency, had he won in 2020, would have been enough to keep Russia at bay. In his stump speeches, he routinely promises to resolve the war quickly if elected, and has often said he could resolve the conflict “within 24 hours.”

But European leaders and security experts have expressed concern that a second Trump presidency could embolden Russia, especially given Mr. Trump’s frequent threats to withdraw the United States from NATO.

Further fueling their fears, Mr Trump raised the possibility on Saturday that he might “encourage” Russia to “do whatever it wants” against NATO members who do not spend enough money on their own defence. His comments prompted a firestorm of criticism from Mr. Biden and Nikki Haley, his only main rival in the Republican primary.

After days of headlines, Mr. Trump did not repeat that claim on Wednesday. But he returned to his more frequent claim that he had told NATO members that the United States would not defend them if he felt their spending was insufficient.

NATO has a non-binding target for its member countries to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on the military. As of last year, only 11 of NATO’s 31 members have reached that level. Mr Trump said on Wednesday he thought the target should be doubled to 4 per cent.

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