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Trump must be stopped if Ukraine is to survive. Ukrainian American vote may be critical in “battleground states”

Mar 14, 2024 | Editorials, Featured

Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.

Following former President Donald Trump’s near sweep of the “Super Tuesday” primary states on March 5, his last Republican challenger, former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley had no alternative but to suspend her campaign as there was virtually no chance for her to win. On the Democratic side, current President Joe Biden has been virtually unopposed and has also accumulated a massive delegate lead. Although most voters do not want to see another Biden-Trump matchup, that’s exactly where we are heading.

However, despite his countless criminal and civil charges, his contempt for the U.S. Constitution and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, Trump has been leading in the polls recently, beating Biden by as much as five percentage points in some surveys. This is very serious because Trump has never won the popular vote in a presidential election – even in 2016 when he lost by almost 3 million votes to Hilary Clinton, but managed to win the election due to the anachronistic Electoral College system of the United States, under which the candidate winning any given state, whether by one vote or one million, takes all of that state’s electoral votes. Some states may be overwhelmingly Republican, others overwhelmingly Democratic, but there are those that can swing either way. They are known as the battleground states and hold the key to each election.

There are sizeable Ukrainian American communities in three such states – Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania – two of which (Michigan and Pennsylvania) proved to be pivotal in both 2016 and 2020. For the last 70 years Ukrainian Americans have traditionally supported the Republican Party primarily because of its uncompromising stand against Communist aggression.

But the party of Ronald Reagan, who so emphatically proclaimed “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!”, is now the party of Donald Trump who at the 2018 Helsinki Summit so pathetically declared “I believe Putin” (instead of his own Intelligence agencies) and, just recently, invited Putin to do to certain NATO members “whatever the hell you want’.”

“The late Republican President Ronald Reagan got Russia right and dubbed it the ‘evil empire’, but now his party is not only ‘soft’ on Putin but downright collaborative. On the second anniversary of Moscow’s 2022 attack on Ukraine, Kremlin broadcaster RT published an essay by Fyodor Lukyanov, a Kremlin foreign policy insider, blatantly endorsing another Republican or Trump Presidency,” wrote political commentator Diane Francis in her March 1 article “Russia’s Republicans”.

Let’s examine Trump’s record on Ukraine, NATO and the threat to world peace and security posed by Putin’s Russia.
• When Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, Trump praised Putin and predicted that “the rest of Ukraine will fall … fairly quickly.” Echoing Kremlin propaganda, Trump said in a TV interview that the Crimean people “would rather be with Russia,” a position he also pushed in private. One of his 2016 campaign aides falsely claimed that “Russia did not seize Crimea.”
• When Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine shot down a commercial airliner in 2014, killing 298 people, Trump sowed doubt about Russia’s involvement. He embraced Putin’s denials, even after US and European officials publicly concluded that Russia was complicit.
• Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort – who had spent a decade advising Yanukovych in Ukraine – collaborated in 2016 with a Russian spy on a secret plan for Trump to help Russia control eastern Ukraine, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The proposal envisioned that Yanukovych would return to lead a Russian puppet state in eastern Ukraine.
• Trump’s biggest lie was about the 2016 election. He denied that Russia interfered to help him win. Instead, he falsely claimed it was Ukraine that meddled, and that he was the victim. These lies, which he repeated dozens of times, were a double boon to the Kremlin: they downplayed Russia’s brazen attack on US democracy, while simultaneously smearing Ukraine.
• In 2019, Trump infamously withheld nearly $400 million in military aid as part of his attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into announcing sham corruption investigations into Biden and his family’s business dealings.
• Throughout his presidency, Trump pushed a litany of false claims about Ukraine – in public and private. A widely respected diplomat testified to Congress that Trump believed “Ukraine was a corrupt country, full of terrible people.”
• When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Trump praised Putin as a “genius” and “savvy”.
• He opposed aid to Ukraine announcing that were he to return as president he would end the conflict in 24 hours by leaving Zekenskyy with no option but to make a deal – one that most definitely would not be in Ukraine’s interests.
• After the Senate, by a 70-29 vote that included 17 Republicans, passed a bill to provide $60 billion in military aid (90% of which would be spent in the United States to manufacture those weapons), he ordered House Republicans to block that bill even as Ukraine is losing lives and ground to Russia because it is running out of ammunition.
• When Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was murdered, Trump did not bother to eulogize him, but outrageously compared himself to the martyred human rights activist.
• Most recently, on March 11 BBC reported that Trump told Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban he “will not give a penny” to Ukraine. “That is why the war will end,” said Orban after meeting Trump in Florida.

Not only should Ukrainian Americans, Polish Americans, Baltic Americans and members of other ethnocultural groups whose motherlands may be threatened by a resurgent Russian bear be worried by a Trump victory, but so should all Americans and the entire free world. This is because Trump represents a genuine threat to freedom and democracy both at home and abroad. He is just as likely to allow dictators around the world free reign to invade their neighbours and oppress their own citizens, as he is to try to establish his own dictatorship at home.

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