Written by Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
Authorities in Kiev are attempting to organise a direct conversation between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and former US President Donald Trump, the likely Republican candidate expected to run against the Democrats in 2024. This comes as Joe Biden seeks re-election amid his deteriorating image in US public opinion and as Trump’s popularity grows.
The initiative by Kiev comes amid opposition in the US Congress to allocating funds to Ukraine, according to sources close to Zelensky’s office, cited by the Ukrainian publication Strana. The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives has blocked the release of funds to Ukraine, raising concerns within the Ukrainian regime about crucial funding to address challenges in the country, including issues related to security and defence.
Kiev’s authorities seek to establish direct communication between Zelensky and Trump in an attempt to resolve this issue, however, even if the chat does occur, it is very unlikely that the Ukrainian president will be able to change the mind of the American billionaire who will almost certainly give priority to Israel instead of Ukraine, which he has already been critical of.
“Trump now controls the House of Representatives of the US Congress, which blocks allocating funds to Ukraine. In Kiev, they understand this and are therefore trying to organise a direct conversation between Trump and Zelensky,” a source told the Ukrainian outlet.
Such a measure is seen as an attempt to overcome political obstacles and guarantee necessary support for Kiev. While Biden pursues an extremely aggressive foreign policy, especially in relation to the war in Ukraine, Trump has been projecting himself as an opponent of the conflict and even believes that he can resolve the war in “one day, 24 hours”.
Asked in June how he plans to settle the war, Trump suggested that he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky, which would resolve the war within 24 hours.
“I know Zelensky very well, and I know Putin very well, even better. And I had a good relationship, very good with both of them. I would tell Zelensky, ‘No more. You got to make a deal’,” he said.
Zelensky’s pursuit of speaking with Trump reveals his desperation when it is recalled that as recently as November 5, he questioned Trump’s claim that he could quickly resolve the war in 24 hours.
“If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes – yes, 24 minutes… to explain (to) President Trump that he can’t manage this war. He can’t bring peace because of Putin,” Zelensky said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
In the same interview, Zelensky praised US President Joe Biden for visiting Ukraine earlier this year, saying,
“I think he understood some details which you can understand only being here. So I invite President Trump.”
This gaslighting of Trump and the typical arrogance of Zelensky will prove to be another killer blow to Kiev’s war ambitions if the billionaire is re-elected. More recent polls place Biden behind Trump, with a dramatic drop in voting intentions among young people and Arab-Americans, groups that were fundamental to the current president’s victory in the 2020 elections.
A New York Times/Siena College poll published on November 5 found Trump leading Biden in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, five out of six key states that will likely determine the outcome of the 2024 election. A CBS News poll published on the same day as the New York Times/Siena College poll found Trump leading Biden in a hypothetical match-up, 51% to 48%. A CNN poll published on November 7 found Trump ahead of Biden by 49%-45% in a hypothetical rematch.
At the same time, the funding impasse for Ukraine has also been highlighted by the sceptical stance of the new speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, regarding allocating new funds for the Eastern European country’s needs. Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, expressed doubts even as Russia’s special military operations in the region intensified.
Johnson and the Senate remain at odds over the Biden administration’s request to pass more than $100 billion in national security funding at a time when the White House has warned that US funds available for Ukraine are quickly running out. Biden is urging Congress to pass the supplemental bill, which includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine and $14.3 billion for Israel, as a “comprehensive, bipartisan agreement.”
With extra funding for Ukraine struggling to be approved, it explains why Zelensky is desperate to speak with Trump, believing that he can change the former president’s mind, who still wields a lot of influence in the Republican Party despite not yet being announced as the official candidate for next year’s election. However, it is extremely unlikely that the Ukrainian president can change Trump’s mind, who is very evidently frustrated with the war and wants it to end quickly, which will mean Zelensky accepting Ukraine must recognise ceded territory to Russia.