Former President Donald Trump declined an invite to Ukraine from President Volodymyr Zelensky to witness the scale of the Eastern European nation’s ongoing conflict with Russia.
Zelenksky extended the invitation to Trump during an interview with NBC on Sunday to make good on the former president’s vow of settling its war with Russia in “24 hours” — a repeated claim that Trump said would happen if he takes back the White House in 2024.
But Trump declined the offer in a statement to Newsmax.
“I have great respect for President Zelenskyy, but think it would be inappropriate to go to Ukraine at this time,” Trump wrote in a statement. “The Biden administration is currently dealing with him, and I would not want to create a conflict of interest.”
Trump, who currently holds the lead for the 2024 presidential GOP nomination, has said he could strike a deal between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky to solve the international war overseas in “one day” if re-elected to the White House.
“If I’m president, I will have that war settled in one day – 24 hours,” Trump told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins earlier this year during a town hall, adding he would meet with the two presidents who “have weaknesses and they both have strengths” to settle the war.
“It’ll be over, it’ll be absolutely over,” Trump said.
Trump added during the interview that he doesn’t view the war “in terms of winning and losing.”
“I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people,” he said, adding, “Russians and Ukrainians, I want them to stop dying. And I’ll have that done in 24 hours.”
Zelensky said during an interview with NBC that if Trump could “manage it,” he is welcome to visit Kyiv but signaled doubt in Trump’s ability to end hostilities if re-elected.
“If he can come here, I will need … 24 minutes to explain to President Trump that he can’t manage this war,” Zelenskiy said. “He can’t bring peace because of Putin.”
Trump has been critical of U.S. support of the war, saying the Biden administration’s involvement has led to a “reckless escalation” in Ukraine.
In July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order making as many as 3,000 reservists from the U.S. military available to travel to Europe and support NATO efforts to end hostilities between Russia and Ukraine. This comes as Ukraine has received nearly $350 billion in foreign aid, including $113 billion from the U.S., which has been crucial to its continued war effort.
The Biden administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill have pushed for a joint $106 billion aid package to Israel and Ukraine, but the Republican-controlled House passed a standalone bill to support Israel while leaving aid to Ukraine on the negotiating table, possibly as part of a deal for increased border security.
Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have said that proposal is dead on arrival. Still, allies of Ukraine are worried that the debate itself shows unqualified support for Ukraine is becoming unsustainable. The U.S. still has about $5 billion of outstanding allocated aid waiting to be sent to Ukraine due to an accounting error by the Pentagon. Still, once that runs out, further funds would have to be approved by the divided Congress.
Zelensky said if Washington, D.C., refuses to send more aid, U.S. soldiers could eventually get involved in a greater conflict with Russia.
“If Russia will kill all of us, they will attack NATO countries, and you will send your sons and daughters [to fight],” Zelensky told NBC.
Michael Whittaker contributed to this report.