What would a Trump victory look like for Ukraine?

Ukraine in Focus

By Svitlana Morenets

May 12

Donald Trump still can win the upcoming US presidential election, Niall Ferguson writes in this week’s Spectator cover piece. But what would it mean for Ukraine? ‘He would almost certainly seek to impose a compromise of peace on Ukraine, as he regards the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with something less than respect, and has a notorious inclination to do business with Vladimir Putin,’ Ferguson writes. And he is right: if Trump wins, the war may be over – but certainly not in Ukraine’s favour.

A ceasefire is the main argument for peace that Trump uses in his pre-election campaign. But he keeps quiet about the fact that this will benefit Putin. In his latest interview, Trump refused to say who he thinks should win the war: ‘I want everybody to stop dying, both Russians and Ukrainians,’ he said, adding that he would have stopped the war in 24 hours if he had been president when it started. This stance resonates with many Americans who are fatigued from supporting and funding a fight thousands of miles away from them. But immediately afterwards, Trump said: ‘I want Europe to put up more money because they are in for $20 billion, we are for $170 billion, and they should equalise.’ It seems unclear: does Trump want to end the war or just to stop funding Ukraine?

I would say both. Republicans have been lulling voters with tales of a lightning-quick end to the war, if only Trump could negotiate with Putin on the phone. The thesis that ‘the war will be over in one day’ is more an election slogan than a plausible reality – as well as the efforts to tie Ukraine to the economic problems of the ‘ordinary American’. ‘At worst, I could’ve made a deal to take over something, there are [in Ukraine] certain areas that are Russian-speaking areas, frankly, but you could’ve worked a deal,’ Trump has said previously of a compromise. But there is no quick solution: Putin won’t call off the invasion without maintaining the occupied territories, and Ukraine won’t cede them. Trump will find it difficult to reward Putin for Russia’s efforts to put him in the White House in 2016.

Many Americans believe that aiding Ukraine will mean dragging the US into a nuclear conflict with Russia. That’s why Trump is keen to say that he would be the only candidate who could prevent world war three – by ending the fight. If Trump comes to power again, Ukraine might get much less military help (or none at all) from the US. America demonstrated its ability to be a global leader during the invasion of Ukraine; without Washington, a large pro-Ukrainian coalition of countries could simply fall apart. If that happened, it would be disastrous for Ukraine: after running out of weapons, Kyiv would be forced to cut a deal with Putin. Such a deal would certainly mean giving up land, people and freedom. However, problems may begin even before the presidential elections. The volume of financial assistance to Ukraine approved by Congress at the end of last year will expire by the end of September. A new amount of aid would need to be approved by the House of Representatives, which is dominated by Republicans who want to reduce aid to Ukraine – or even to cut it completely.

Trump is playing this card, trying to win the internal primaries within his party and some of the electorate, who believe America’s economic problems are a direct result of sending aid to Ukraine. All his statements mean that aid will be more and more difficult to allocate. In many cases, its allocation will be sabotaged and delayed by the Republicans, who will try to prove the ineffectiveness of Biden’s policy towards Ukraine, the fruitlessness of the money already spent and, accordingly, reduce Biden’s chances of re-election.

It can be argued that Biden is the presidential candidate who best understands Ukraine and the consequences the war holds for global security. But the presidential campaign will be tough for the 80-year-old. That’s why Kyiv believes the war must be won before November next year. In the words of Zelensky: ‘Who knows where we will be [when the elections are held]. I believe that by then we will win.’

Russian State Duma deputies demanded a ban on Family Guy for how it portrayed the city of Chelyabinsk, saying it was ‘offensive and has nothing to do with reality’. The backlash came after episodes 19 and 20 of the show’s 21st season. (Credit: Fox)

In pictures


Quote of the week

‘With [what we already have] we can go forward and, I think, be successful. But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable. So we need to wait. We still need a bit more time.’

– Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainian army still needs ‘some things’, including armoured vehicles that were ‘arriving in batches’, before launching a counter-offensive

The war in numbers

Range of a Storm Shadow missile

200 miles

The UK is the first country to give Ukraine such long-range weapons

Ukrainian forces have advanced

1.2 miles

in Bakhmut, according to Ukraine’s deputy defence minister

Ukrainian troops who need treatment for lost limbs

250-500 per month

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko asked his Berlin counterpart for medical assistance


Svitlana Morenets was a journalist in Kyiv. She hitchhiked in Crimea to learn more about life under the Russian occupation and wrote a story about her experience in 2019. She is now in London working at The Spectator. If you enjoy the Ukraine in Focus newsletter, please forward it to someone you know: you can sign up here. Svitlana’s writing for The Spectator can be found here. This email is a work in progress: all feedback welcome: svitlana@spectator.co.uk


  1. The next elections should be irrelevant, because the goal is to win this war by before then.
    What would a trump victory look like? It would be a disaster for the US, for NATO, for the free world. I see only one positive aspect, and that is the closure of our southern borders.

    • Have you forgotten about the war in Donbas? The war started in 2014, so there was not a single day during Trump’s tenure that Ukraine and Russia weren’t at war. Ukrainians were dying every day.

      And that calls himself Ukrainian.

      I think Trump or Biden was not a deciding factor, but probably more Putin loosing his mind during the pandemic.

  2. The Donbass war started, as you said, in 2014. Who was in office in 2014, Biden/Obama. Crimea was taken under their watch too. Nothing was done. We did not getting any weapons from Obama/BIden in 2014, even after the Revolution of Dignity. The tanks rolled in and Obama/Bide told us before it occurred, give up you weapons.

    Trump sent us weapons to fight in the Donbass, Obama/Biden, sent us none.

    Two times is NOT a coincidence.

    • Frankly anyone for whatever reason doesn’t want to call Putin a war criminal is a loathsome piece of shit of a human.

      • Biden tells you one thing to your face, and opens he NS for Putin, so he could make money for war.

        Wake up

  3. I think you are omitting most of the crucial information, especially Trump’s attempt to decrease the aid budget, delaying almost every aid packages during his tenure.

    He even tried to bribe Zelensky to deliver dirt on Hunter Biden. If he didn’t, there would not be aid.

    Also, indeed Trump introduced lethal aid, but only on paper. The Javelins haven’t been used during the war in Donbas and Ukraine couldn’t use them unless there would be a full scale war. They have been in warehouses in Western-Ukraine and were delivered in ridiculously small numbers.

    So the Javelins in fact helped against Ukraine, as part of the laughable 250 million dollars were spent on Javelins that Ukraine couldn’t use during an active war.

    The only lethal aid Ukraine could use that were sent during Trump’s term were some grenade launchers.

    I actually think the counter-battery radars sent during the Obama era were of more use.

    Indeed under Obama Russia took parts of Ukraine, but there was nothing stopping Trump from adequately arming Ukraine to reverse this, but he refused to do so.

    • Shut up Bert! You are just jealous!
      I don’t care about your “facts”!
      Trump will just open up his arse and will end the war in a day.

      Biden barely has an arse, he is so sleepy he doesn’t even have the energy to eat! Do you really think Putin will be impressed by that?

      You think you are so smart, but I’ve seen Fox News so I know you are wrong.

    • Trump armed Ukraine so we could fight in the Donbass, again, something Biden and Obama, did not do. Obama/Biden took our weapons away before the Russian invasion inn 2014. How come you do not address that?

      IF we have no weapons and you don’t help us when the Russian’s invade, how can you be a friend?

      • Have you read my comment?
        Ukraine was prohibited from using Javelins in the Donbas, even though it has paid some of them with their own money.

        They only got some grenade launchers and some small arms under the Trump era which Ukraine used in the Donbas.

        Even though I disagree with Obama not sending lethal arms, it wasn’t was Ukraine needed most in 2014.

        It had insane amounts of ammo from Soviet times and they didn’t lack firepower at all.

        What Ukraine lacked most was modern personal gear and counter battery radars and modern anti-tank weapons and guided missiles.

        Of course the aid was inadequate, but it didn’t got any better in the Trump era as it was still 250 million a year, absolutely nothing.

        The lethal aid didn’t make any difference in the Donbas, as what they actually needed they were forbidden to use, and what they actually received was not something that was in short supply.

        Until 2022, military aid to Ukraine was a joke: both under Obama and Trump.

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