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Republican Debate Highlights Uncertain Future of US Aid to Ukraine

The future of U.S. aid to Ukraine under a potential Republican White House remains very much in doubt, one day after eight candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination clashed over the subject in the party’s first presidential primary debate.

On stage in Milwaukee on Wednesday, the candidates displayed a range of attitudes toward U.S. support for Ukraine’s effort to fend off the full-scale Russian invasion that began in February 2022. Some called for the elimination or reduction of U.S. support, while others spoke forcefully in favor of extending it.

The dispute highlights a sharp divergence of opinion within the broader Republican Party over the war in Ukraine, one that has been reflected in public opinion polls since last year. Recent polling by CNN has indicated that a large segment of the Republican electorate wants to cut or eliminate U.S. funding, with 71% saying that Congress should not authorize new funding, and 59% saying they believe the U.S. has already done enough to support Kyiv.

The Republicans on the debate stage did not include former President Donald Trump, who is currently leading the field by a wide margin in public polling. Trump, instead, recorded an interview that aired at the same time as the debate.

DeSantis critical of Europe

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who early in his campaign stumbled over his position on Ukraine, was first among the candidates to address the issue on Wednesday, saying immediately that he would make additional U.S. aid “contingent” on an increase in aid from European countries.

“Europe needs to step up,” DeSantis said. “I’m going to have Europe step up and do their job.”

Statistical data on aid to Ukraine show that while the U.S. has sent the most to Ukraine in total dollars, European countries have given the most on a GDP basis.

The candidate most adamant about restricting U.S. aid to Ukraine was Vivek Ramaswamy, a tech businessman who has no experience in public office.

Asked if he would support increased funding to Ukraine, Ramaswamy said, “I would not, and I think that this is disastrous, that we are protecting against an invasion across somebody else’s border, when we should use those same military resources to prevent … the invasion of our own southern border here in the United States of America.”

Source : VOA News