Presidential candidate accused of trying to ‘hand Ukraine to Russia’ after comparing the war to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
By Tony Diver, US EDITOR 25 August 2023 •
The war in Ukraine will end with the country under the control of a “post-Zelensky warlord” if America does not cut its military funding, Vivek Ramaswamy has said.
The entrepreneur and presidential candidate, who was considered the breakout star of Wednesday’s Republican primary debate, has pledged to stop US support for Mr Zelensky if he wins control of the White House next year.
He said Ukraine would end up “just like what happened after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan” if America does not “step in’’ to end Western military aid.
The war in Ukraine has become controversial among some on the political Right, who argue its cost has become unjustifiable.
Polls show that the proportion of GOP voters who believe America is doing too much for Ukraine have tripled since last spring, to 44 per cent, while a significant majority of Democrats support more spending.
And in comments published later by Voice of America, he went on to suggest the continuation of the war would be worse for Ukraine’s long-term interests and stability.
“My plan to end the Ukraine war will actually be probably better for Ukraine, at least it comes out with sovereignty intact,” he said.
“You mark my words, the way this war ends right now without the US actually stepping in and saying we’re not going to fund any more of it is going to be some post-Zelensky warlord takes over, with a couple 100 billion dollars of American military equipment.
“Just like what happened after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and you see how far that got us.”
Mr Ramaswamy has said he would prioritise a trip to Moscow in his first year as president and give Russia a guarantee that Nato will never admit Ukraine.
He has said his foreign affairs policy would be based on the “America First” strategy pursued by Donald Trump between 2016 and 2020, when he withdrew from international organisations and treaties, including the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Ron DeSantis, the second-placed Republican candidate after Mr Trump, has also pledged to cut funding to Kyiv.
The shift in Republican views is concerning for Western allies, especially Eastern European countries on Russia’s Western flank.
It has also worried more mainstream Republicans, who say the US must continue to stand by Ukraine to avoid emboldening Putin.
‘You don’t do that to friends’
On Wednesday, Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, said Mr Ramaswamy had “no foreign policy experience and it shows”.
“He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel,” she said.
“You don’t do that to friends. What you do instead is you have the backs of your friends.”
At last month’s Nato summit, Joe Biden was resistant to efforts from some treaty states to give Ukraine an explicit path to membership – a move that would further inflame tensions with Russia.
According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research institute, Mr Biden’s government has provided more than $75 billion (£59 billion) in military, humanitarian and financial support since Putin’s invasion in February 2022.