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16 Feb, 2024 15:54

Ukraine cash making US ‘a laughing stock’ – Trump

The US’ allies need to “pay up” to keep the aid flowing to Kiev, the Republican frontrunner has said
Ukraine cash making US ‘a laughing stock’ – Trump

NATO countries “laugh at the stupidity of the United States” for spending so much money on Ukraine, and must “pay their bills,” former US President Donald Trump has said. He recently proposed lending, rather than donating, money to Kiev.

“NATO countries have to pay up. They have to pay their bills,” Trump told reporters in New York on Thursday. “The United States is in for $200 billion; they’re in for $25 billion,” he added, referring to the military and economic aid doled out to Ukraine by the US and its NATO allies.

While conservative politicians and pundits in the US often put President Joe Biden’s spending on Ukraine at $200 billion, that figure is inaccurate. The US has appropriated around $113 billion for military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, with around $67 billion sent to Kiev and the rest spent on the US military and other government agencies.

Biden is currently pushing Congress to pass a $95 billion foreign aid bill that includes more than $60 billion worth of additional military aid for Ukraine. While the Senate has greenlit the bill, it remains stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where Speaker Mike Johnson wants it tied to a major tightening of US immigration law and funding for border security.

“They laugh at the stupidity of the United States of America, where we have a guy that gives $60bn every time somebody comes and asks for it,” Trump continued on Thursday, referring to other NATO countries. “They’re laughing at us. They think we’re the stupid country because of our leadership.”

Trump, who is the presumptive Republican nominee to challenge Biden in this November’s election, has moderated his stance on Ukraine in recent weeks. While he once suggested that he would use American aid as leverage to force Kiev into a peace deal with Moscow, he has since called on NATO’s European members to increase their contributions.

Speaking to supporters in South Carolina on Wednesday, Trump argued that any future aid to Ukraine should be given as a loan rather than a gift. “Do it this way,” he said. “Loan them the money. If they can make it, they pay us back. If they can’t make it, they don’t have to pay us back.” Trump first pitched the idea of a loan a week earlier, explaining on his Truth Social platform that such a loan would be given “on extraordinarily good terms.”

Trump’s proposed loan has the backing of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who said on Monday that this plan “allows America, who is deeply in debt, a chance to get our money back.” However, Graham is a foreign policy hawk who has consistently lobbied for increased spending on Ukraine and regime change in Russia, and his views are out of line with many in Trump’s anti-interventionist base.

“Lindsey Graham’s latest scheme is convincing Republicans that it’s somehow better to loan [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky $60 billion, rather than give it to him,” journalist Tucker Carlson tweeted on Thursday. “Ukraine will never repay the debt, and we’ll never make them. This is just a more dishonest way to send more unaccounted for weapons to the region, delay the inevitable peace deal and kill more forcibly-conscripted Ukrainians.”

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