The former US president has reportedly turned down the Ukrainian leader’s offer of a meeting in Kiev
Former US President Donald Trump has rejected Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky’s invitation for a meeting, saying it would be “inappropriate” to make such a visit at a time when the administration of his successor, Joe Biden, is overseeing Washington’s relations with Kiev.
“I have great respect for President Zelensky, but I think it would be inappropriate to go to Ukraine at this time,” Trump said in a written statement to US media outlet Newsmax. “The Biden administration is currently dealing with him, and I would not want to create a conflict of interest.”
Zelensky issued the invitation during an interview earlier on Sunday with NBC News, saying he wanted to prove to Trump why the ex-president was wrong to claim that he could resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 24 hours. Trump told Fox News in July that if he wins back the presidency in 2024, he will quickly end the crisis in Eastern Europe by forcing Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate a peace deal.
“President Biden was here, and he – I think he understood some details which you can understand only being here, so I invite President Trump,” Zelensky said in the NBC interview. “If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes, yes, 24 minutes – not more – 24 minutes to explain [to] President Trump that he can’t manage this war. He can’t bring peace because of Putin.”
Biden has asked US lawmakers to approve $61.4 billion in additional funding for Ukraine as part of a $106 billion emergency security bill. Congress previously approved $113 billion in Ukraine aid in four rounds of legislation.
However, Zelensky may be hedging his political bets because Trump is polling as the leading Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race and appears to be widening his lead in a hypothetical rematch with Biden.
A New York Times/Siena College poll released on Sunday showed that Trump is leading Biden in five of the six so-called “swing states” that are expected to decide next year’s election. The poll showed that Trump is favored over Biden by four to 11 percentage points in five key states, while the incumbent leads his rival by two points in the other key swing state, Wisconsin.
Trump has claimed to have good relationships with both Zelensky and Putin. He also has claimed that the Russia-Ukraine conflict never would have happened if Biden hadn’t “stolen” the 2020 election. Ironically, Trump was impeached in December 2019 for allegedly trying to pressure Zelensky to investigate suspected corruption involving Biden’s family in Ukraine.