Nikki Haley Bucks Trump to Send Putin a Message


From left to right: Russian President Vladimir Putin, former President Donald Trump, and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Haley, who has faced allegations from Trump supporters of being a “neocon” in the tradition of figures like former Vice President Dick Cheney, is trying to reframe the narrative about the necessity of U.S. support for Ukraine.MICHAEL SANTIAGO/WIN MCNAMEE/NEWSWEEK PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/GETTY IMAGES

Throughout his administration, former President Donald Trump bore a gentle—if not complimentary—posture toward Russian President Vladimir Putin that stoked concern from critics and members of his administration alike.

As president and outside of the White House, Trump has repeatedly said he trusted Putin’s word over that of his own director of national intelligence, and reportedly had a congenial relationship with him through the final days of his presidency.

When Russia invaded Ukraine last winter, Trump described Putin as a “genius” while calling a war that has left thousands of people dead on both sides a “savvy” political move—building on a posture that earned Trump harsh rebukes even from his own secretary of state.

“An American partnership with Russia is a fool’s errand so long as Putin and his thugs are in power,” Mike Pompeo, his onetime secretary of state, wrote in a memoir published ahead of his own anticipated 2024 bid for the presidency.

Trump’s first credible opponent in the race—his former ambassador to the United NationsNikki Haley—already plans to put the U.S. posture toward Russia on the ballot.

In her announcement speeches and subsequent interviews this week, Haley advocated for the United States to take a more proactive role in aiding the Ukrainian defense as enthusiasm for the war has begun to wane among Republicans in Congress.

“We have the backs of our friends, and we hold our enemies to account,” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody in an interview after her campaign launch in South Carolina earlier this week. “Whether it’s Ukraine or Israel, we take care of them because it’s about freedom. And we can never stop fighting for freedom.”

Newsweek has reached out to Haley’s campaign for comment. But it’s a position that is becoming an increasingly precarious one within the Republican base.

CBS News/YouGov poll from early January showed a slight majority of Republicans—52 percent to 48 percent—wanted their member of Congress to oppose further funding to Ukraine, while a Washington Post/ABC News poll in early February showed feelings among Republicans that the country was doing “too much” for Ukraine were up 18 percent from that position in April 2022.

Prior to the 2022 midterms, current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy even suggested his party would consider taking a more active opposition to Ukrainian aid, while others have indicated even the Biden administration’s contributions have limits.

It’s a balancing act some in the GOP are treading gingerly—particularly as the party’s right wing has already begun pushing for an outright end to U.S. assistance.

Some, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have begun aggressively pushing a counter to some of his Republican colleagues, traveling to the Munich Security Conference on Friday to help advocate for more aid from NATO allies while maintaining the need for continued U.S. support.

“I’m gonna try to help explain to the American people that defeating the Russians in Ukraine is the single most important event going on in the world right now,” he said in an interview on Fox News Thursday.

Meanwhile, Haley—who has already faced allegations from Trump supporters of being a “neocon” in the tradition of figures like former Vice President Dick Cheney—is trying to reframe the narrative about the necessity of the conflict: namely, that Russia is a threat and the only way to prevent future wars is for Ukraine to win this one.

“This isn’t a war about Ukraine. This is a war about freedom,” she told Brody. “I don’t think we need to put troops on the ground. I don’t think we need to write them blank checks. But they have the passion to fight for their own freedom. Give them the ammunition to do it. Get with our NATO allies and say, ‘Hey, we’re not the only ones, you’ve got to do it too.’ And let them win this fight.”


  1. I’m very glad that Nikki Haley has abandoned the Trump camp and is declaring what importance it is to aid Ukraine’s epic fight and, concurrently, the utmost importance of defeating mafia land. McConnell and others have known this all along.
    It’s more important than most people realize to explain these needs to the American public. They must know every detail about it. We cannot relent to Kremlin friends of the US government on both sides of the aisle, who brainwash the voters with irrelevant arguments, heads-in-the-sand concepts, appeasement of a vile, evil entity and downright ass-giving to this wickedness. Biden and his crew have failed utterly in this regard.

    • I’m don’t think that she was ever in the “Trump camp “. She tiptoed around his administration, careful not to alienate him or his supporters, keeping an eye on this moment.
      I have endorsed her for years. She is a very tough woman, listen to her past speaches at the U.N. on Russia.
      It doesn’t hurt that she is pretty hot too.

      • Well, tiptoeing around the Trumpet is one thing, but now, her official differing stance is quite another … loud and clear.

  2. She is choosing to campaign on a pro-Ukraine ticket, which takes integrity. Trump is an accessory to genocide and should be in jail.
    As for DiSantis, he refuses to state his position, which is similar in effect to an abstention from some shit country in a UN vote.
    However, her decision is also profoundly depressing, since she has obviously determined that on the balance of probability, putler’s Holocaust will still be raging during US election year.

  3. Trump and his cohorts are morons who due to his own narcissistic mental disorder is a tragedy that decent people are forced to endure. He does not represent mainstream America and currently I put him in the category with Putin wishing he just eats shit and die. There are many polls that like other media, one needs to look further to understand the basis of the poll. The recent AP poll which showed a decline in US support (which did not allow access to the background demographics, and I looked) is completely contrasted by a Gallup poll published on Feb 6 which was entitled “One Year Later, Americans Still Standby Ukraine” which showed no change (66% vs 65%) in support. Those against were unchanged at 31%. Unlike the AP poll the Gallop poll does allow access to the background demographics. Here is the link to the Gallop Poll.

    I’m also extremely happy to see that the Ukrainian diaspora in the US are as relentless and vehement and as committed as our heroes in Ukraine in fighting the fuckin ass wipes like Carlson, Gobbard, Vance , Goetz and others. So many individuals of Ukrainian discent challenging the asswipes and are not giving them an inch in showing the vile nature of the asswipes. I’m proud of my fellow Ukrainian Americans. We may not be facing bullets or energy outages but everyday we are in a war and we will win!!!

    My advice, don’t accept any one source of information, challenge everything and fight the Moskali assholes.

  4. Ukrainian sources and media should not get involved in Trump discussions. The situation is much more nuanced than portrayed in US leftist media. Although Trump claimed to “understand” Putin, that’s just him trying to portray himself as an effective leader and communicator, and most importantly, “deal maker”.

    He did not declare support for Putin or Russia in any sense, and especially not after the SMO started. He was however, during his term, in favor of a muscular foreign policy and a firm defense policy, which might well have deterred Putin’s invasion plans in the first place. That said, I think it was silly of him to claim he understood and could believe Putin. It didn’t gain him much even with his supporters, and it opened him up to criticism of the sort we are seeing here.

    More importantly, regarding Haley’s chances, she has in the past taken several very bad positions on other unrelated issues (yes, not everything should be interpreted through a “Trump lens”!), and accordingly she has no chance in 2024 with the Republican base.

    Once the primary season begins, all of these pretenders (Haley, Pence, Pompeo, etc.) will be revealed not to have anything like the support they would need to win. This race is between Trump and DeSantis.

    • Ukrainians should feel free to comment on American politics as they see it fit because it affects them.

      Stop trying to control the narrative by who can and can’t speak. Go live in Russia if you believe people can’t comment on elections. As an American, I damn well for sure want to know how Ukrainians think and feel.

      That Nikki as a republican is pro-Ukrainian support is important,

    • Haley has her flaws and her missteps and unresolved problems from her days as governor. She will face tough questions about her past statements about President Trump, and whether, when push comes to shove, she ultimately should be seen as more of an ally or more of a critic of him.
      Her depth and breadth of experience and combination of indisputable toughness and charisma on the stump represent a rare combination of strengths in a potential president who is only 51 years old.
      But as both a potential nominee and president, Haley would bring a wide range of strengths and serious accomplishment record to the table. A lot of race-watchers seem convinced that Republican primary voters don’t want that. Do they?

    • I wholeheartedly disagree. Anyone advocating an approach which gives land to an aggressive country is just wrong. Need I remind you of Hitler and Chamberlain? Trump is too much into himself to be an effective leader.

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