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No, former President Donald Trump has not changed his posture on the Ukraine-Russia War — contrary to what his critics have claimed over the last few days. What he did do — in true Trumpian fashion — was announce that if he ever makes it back to the Oval Office, he will bring his familiar — and often surprising — approach to foreign policy with him.
The apparent confusion over where Trump stands on the West’s most pressing military conflict arose from a Sunday interview on Fox News Channel in which he boasted he would end the Ukraine-Russia war within 24 hours. When host Maria Bartiromo pressed for specifics as to how he would do that, Trump laid out his version of shuttle diplomacy with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“What I’m saying is I know Zelensky very well, I know Putin very well, even better, and I had a good relationship, very good, with both of them,” Trump said. “I would tell Zelensky, ‘No more, you’ve got to make a deal.’ I would tell Putin, ‘If you don’t make a deal, we’re going to give [Ukraine] a lot [of military aid]. We’re going to give them more than they ever got if we have to.’ I will have the deal done in one day, one day.”
Trump’s opponents took the comments to mean that he favors sending Ukraine more weapons, a position at odds with a sizable chunk of the Republican electorate. But one could as easily read into the remarks a Trump vow to cut off military aid to Ukraine.
He did neither.
Trump was simply laying out his strategy for getting the ball rolling toward a peace deal. Flattery, warnings, threats, concessions, and as much leverage as he could wield. The comments were vintage Trump. It is how he has always rolled.
This is the same man who back in April 2016, as a presidential candidate, said in a major speech on ISIS and other matters, “We have to be unpredictable. And we have to be unpredictable starting now.”
Trump believes that keeping allies and enemies alike on their toes helped secure relative peace during his first term. And in the case of ISIS, which nobody seems to hear much from these days, he was right.
In this conflict, and in that interview, Trump isn’t pledging more or less assistance. He isn’t taking President Joe Biden’s stance —the current president seems to have little to no interest in a mediation process.
In looking at the full quote, what might be more interesting is what is left unsaid.
It seems that Trump’s unstated message to Zelensky is that if he rejects the offer, then his country would likely be vanquished in the absence of U.S. backing. For Russia, the transmission is that if Putin will not cooperate, then increased American aid to Ukraine will make the grueling war even more costly than it already has been.
Nobody wins if everybody loses — and that puts both Putin and Zelensky up against the wall to work out an agreement.
In other words, his remarks suggested a starting point for peace talks — sure to be followed by discussions about the fate of Crimea, the Donbas region, rebuilding Ukraine, and more. Trump seems to believe it is the basis for moving toward his stated ultimate goal of wanting “everybody to stop dying.”
Trump never was and never will be a lawyer-politician who makes his points with smooth eloquence. He is easy to misunderstand and perhaps even easier to take out of context.
For his detractors who think that Trump would benefit from putting forth a more cohesive message, it seems Trump has always had one reply: “Sorry, it’s the way I negotiate.”
Trump said that to a reporter in 2019 who questioned if he had any actual process for dealing with China. At the time, he had similarly put out competing statements on Chinese-U.S. relations.
“It has done very well for me over the years,” Trump said. “It’s doing even better for the country.” It appears he thinks that that game plan will continue to benefit the world in the years to come.
Note that he wrapped up the discussion by pledging once again that he could have a peace agreement in one day — which is what he has said all along. For Trump, it has always been about the art of the deal.
Watch the clip here and decide for yourself:
No, Trump didn’t change his stance toward the Ukraine War nor did he commit to sending even more weapons to Zelensky.
In this interview, he re-committed to ending the war within 24 hours. When pressed for negotiating tactics provided some specifics.
Providing those sorts of… pic.twitter.com/9SZOOj0Ipk
— Tim Meads (@TimMeadsUSA) July 17, 2023
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.