Russian President Vladimir Putin is counting on the potential defeat of US President Joe Biden in the 2024 US presidential election, which could result in curtailment of US aid to Ukraine and could boost Russian war efforts, according to a report.
Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, the top two Republican presidential candidates, have opposed the extensive US aid to Ukraine.
While establishment Republicans like Nikki Haley and Chris Christie have supported the continuation of the US aid to Ukraine, they are polling at less than 5 per cent whereas Trump leads the polls among Republicans at 53.3 per cent and DeSantis comes second with 14.3 per cent, according to polling and eletion news website FiveThirtyEight.
The United States under Biden's leadership has been key to Ukrainian war efforts. The US-led West has provided weapons, ammunition, intelligence, and training to Ukraine that has been key to Ukrainian better-than-expected performance throughout the war. Such support is not guaranteed if DeSantis or Trump win.
What does the report say?
Citing US and European officials, CNN on Friday reported that Putin would want to drag the war until after the 2024 election results as, if Trump or DeSantis win, then Russia could negotiate from a position of strength as US support to Ukraine would no longer be assured and Ukraine could be more agreeable to Russian terms.
CNN reported that while there is no exact intelligence with the US government on Putin's point of view, "next year’s election remains a key factor that top Western national security, intelligence and diplomatic officials believe will influence Putin’s decisions in Ukraine, making it even less likely the war is resolved before the end of next year".
"One US official said they have 'no doubt' that Putin is 'trying to hold out' until the 2024 election. Another source familiar with the intelligence said 'it’s sort of the elephant in the room' for the US, Ukraine and Europe...A European diplomat told CNN that they believe trying to ride out the war in Ukraine until the US election 'is exactly Putin’s plan'," reported CNN, adding that officials said Putin is looking forward to Trump or DeSantis to win.
Putin could be eyeing a win by Trump, or another Republican candidate, as a trigger for the US to pull back support for Ukraine, reports CNN, adding that the election could also make it harder for a long-term US commitment to Ukraine.
“Putin knows Trump will help him. And so do the Ukrainians and our European partners. So even though we haven’t seen anything explicitly to that effect, you have to assume, I believe, that everyone is thinking it," said a source to CNN.
Where do Trump, DeSantis stand on Ukraine War?
Trump and DeSantis represent the far-right of the Republican Party that is not in favour of extensive support of Ukraine against Russia.
On the contrary, the establishment Republicans remain committed to supporting Ukraine, even as some of them say that there cannot be a 'blank cheque' to Ukraine and there needs to be audit of the aid to prevent corruption.
Trump and DeSantis have said the Ukraine War does not matter much to the United States. They would instead focus on domestic affairs. On the other hand, traditional Republicans believe the United States has a greater role in world affairs and should continue aiding Ukraine.
The New York Times reported, "Former President Donald J. Trump has said that the war in Ukraine is not of vital importance to the United States...He claimed falsely that the United States was sending so much equipment that 'we don’t have ammunition for ourselves'."
DeSantis has termed the Ukraine War as "territorial dispute" and said it does not have vital importance to the United States.
"While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” said DeSantis in March.
Lesser popular traditional candidates like Haley and Mike Pence support the aid to Ukraine. Haley has said that a win for Ukraine in the war is win for all of us.
Trump says he'd end war in 1 day, Zelenskyy rejects plan
Trump has claimed that he could end the Ukraine War in 24 hours through a peace deal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rejected the idea.
Trump said, "I know Zelenskyy 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 Zelenskyy, no more. You got to make a deal. I would tell Putin, if you don't make a deal, we're going to give him a lot. We're going to [give Ukraine] more than they ever got if we have to. I will have the deal done in one day. One day."
Zelenskyy, meanwhile, has rejected the claim. He said there were war-like conditions during the four-year tenure of Trump (2016-20) and he had four years to do something if he wished to do. He also said that if peace has to come in a deal that cedes territory to Russia, then Biden could have brought such peace in five minutes.
Zelenskyy said, "Well, it looks as if Donald Trump had already these 24 hours once in his time. We were at war, not a full-scale war, but we were at war and as I assume he had that time at his disposal, but he must have had some other priorities...If we are talking about ending the war at the cost of Ukraine, in other words to make us give up our territories, well, I think in this way Biden could have brought it to an end even in five minutes. But we would not agree."