For NATO and Ukraine, Trump’s return to White House threat has sparked a race against time – Firstpost
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For NATO and Ukraine, Trump’s return to White House threat has sparked a race against time – Firstpost

NATO, concerned about support for Ukraine, is preparing for Donald Trump’s return to the White House. AP

US President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is faltering. Talk of Donald Trump returning to the White House has picked up pace following the presidential debate.

The world is bracing for an unstable leader to preside. The fears are not well-hidden.

These concerns have caught NATO by the collar. It wants to secure as much long-term aid for Ukraine as possible before a decision is made about the next occupant of the White House.

We explain why the alliance is racing against time, or more precisely, against the outcome of the US presidential election.

The Threat of a Trump Presidency

NATO’s fight to support Ukraine in a war that Russia started more than two years ago is nothing new. The alliance has had its share of trouble getting member states to pledge funding and weapons.

Financial aid and arms deliveries from the United States have also been delayed for quite some time due to the impasse between Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives.

A Trump presidency would make things much worse. Here’s why:

  • Funding cuts, military aid for Ukraine: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Since then, Kyiv has received more than $53.6 billion in weapons and security assistance from Washington. Data from the Cologne Institute for the World Economy shows that other NATO members and other partners have collectively provided $50 billion in aid. In this way, the Biden administration has fulfilled the U.S.’s responsibilities as one of the world’s great powers. Trump is clearly not a fan. He has often criticized the extent of U.S. military support for Ukraine. The Republican leader is expected to take a very different stance than Biden’s if he takes office. After all, he has promised to end the war within 24 hours by cutting off aid to Ukraine and forcing its capitulation.

  • Pressures to bow to Russia: NBC News quoted Western officials as saying that Kiev would be under political pressure to bow to Putin’s demands in the peace talks, a possibility that is made all the more likely by Trump’s evasion of criticizing Russia’s role in the war.

    Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump is expected to press Ukraine to accept a peace plan that would involve capitulating to Russia. File photo/AP

    Former Trump national security advisers have proposed a peace plan that would require significant concessions from Ukraine, including giving up its chance of NATO membership for the foreseeable future and handing over four regions to Moscow.

  • Pressure on other NATO countries: Trump boasted in campaign speeches that he would urge Russia to do whatever it wanted to NATO members that failed to meet their commitment to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. He is expected to increase pressure on other NATO members with economies much smaller than the U.S. to contribute more.

This isn’t just scaremongering. Trump leads Biden by 2.1 percentage points nationally, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average, so the threat is very real.

So what is NATO doing to prevent such a scenario?

Building a Trump-Proof NATO

The United States under the Biden Administration, as well as European NATO member states, are actively hedging against the uncertainty created by the November presidential election.

Nations have signed long-term agreements to provide Ukraine with continued military support and training. NATO is creating a new command dedicated to supporting Ukraine, which will employ some 700 people from different countries.

A $700 million contract to deliver more Stinger missiles to Kiev is also part of efforts to “protect itself from Trump.”

In addition, Ukraine and NATO members are also strengthening their defense production capabilities. Across Europe, some defense production lines that were stagnant when they were attacked in 2022 have begun to ramp up production. NATO members are also increasing the amount they spend on defense. Of the 32 member states, 23 are set to meet their 2 percent commitment by 2024. Before the Russia-Ukraine war, that number was just six.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute on the sidelines of the NATO summit to mark the 75th anniversary of NATO in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2024. Reuters

Ukraine, for its part, is developing a sophisticated drone industry, producing more weapons domestically. It is also opening a small office in Washington to strengthen its ties with the U.S. defense industry.

Regardless of whether President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump wins the U.S. election, Ukraine wants to be in a better position to better meet its own defense needs.

Ukraine is also trying to get closer to Republicans and take steps to get on their good side. Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment think tank said Kiev is trying to build “as many bridges to the mainstream Republican establishment as possible.”

“The process of analyzing the consequences of Trump’s possible return to the White House is underway in Kiev,” he said.

“The defense industry should be strong regardless of party choices,” said Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries. “But I’ve heard that Republicans also support the defense industry.”

With information from the agency

For NATO and Ukraine, Trump’s return to White House threat has sparked a race against time – Firstpost

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