Zelensky ‘surrendered’ to Trump, Kyiv is ready for an arms loan

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Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has recently expressed his openness to an idea once proposed by former American president and current presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Trump had called for Ukraine to buy, rather than receive donations of weapons from the US.

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Despite initial resistance to this proposition, recent developments have signaled a shift in Zelensky’s stance. He previously dismissed the concept of acquiring arms loan from the US, however, the present tone suggests a different story, Der Spiegel reports

During a televised discussion, Zelensky entertained the notion of requesting future armaments aid from the United States, potentially on credit. “We are open to every possibility,” were his exact words on the Ukrainian television broadcast. Given the longstanding support from the US, equating to an arms aid of around 40 billion euros, the US remains a key military partner for Ukraine to fend off Russian aggression. However, an impasse between Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress has momentarily halted the flow of additional arms aid.

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Ukraine is losing on the battlefield

Unfortunately, the current predicament on the battlefield for Ukraine is grim, with the Russian forces making significant advances. According to Zelensky, Ukraine’s survival hangs in the balance depending on any deal they can negotiate to hold their line. Faced with the choice of accepting a arms loan package now or a free one after a year, the Ukrainian leader is leaning towards the former, reflecting the urgency of the situation. 

In a recent announcement, Ukraine’s president highlighted the country’s dire need for a minimum of 25 Patriot systems, each capable of handling six to eight batteries. According to him, this would effectively shield the airspace from Russian aircraft attacks. He further emphasized that, in conjunction with the Patriot, the German IRIS-T air defense system has also demonstrated its merit in the battle against Russia.

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Critical ammunition shortage

At the forefront of defense, Ukraine’s armed forces are grappling with a critical ammunition shortage. Their defenses have often been outmaneuvered in the air by the strategic advances of the Russian army. All eyes in Kyiv are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first batch of F-16 fighter jets from their Western allies.

However, countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, who have pledged their support through the donation of F-16s, state that the timing of delivery depends on the proficiency of the Ukrainian pilots. Despite the hopeful promise that the arrival of the F-16s to Ukraine represents, several Western experts caution that the F-16 alone should not be deemed a definitive solution. 

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If the United States chooses to supply Ukraine with weapons on a arms loan basis—a decision seemingly favored by the Republican-led Trump administration—Ukraine could find itself spiraling into a severe debt crisis. This possibility becomes more profound if Ukraine fails in its mission to repel the Russian forces and reclaim territories currently under Russian control, including Crimea. Eastern Ukraine, presently gripped by Russia, is the industrial and energy linchpin of the country. Another unsuccessful retaliation will not only leave Ukrainian territories unreclaimed but would also burden ordinary Ukrainians with an enormous debt, exacerbating the already fragile living standards.

Trump hopes for the arms loan

In a potentially strategic move for Donald Trump’s campaign, support appears to be mounting for his contention that Ukraine should purchase, not be gifted, arms. Indeed, if Congress grants Ukraine permission to buy weapons on credit, it could be seen as a significant win for Trump in the U.S. presidential race. Given Trump’s savvy rhetorical style, it’s likely that he will leverage this development to his advantage, contending that he was correct all along and that the Biden administration missed a crucial chance to substantially amplify American arms sales. 

Photo credit: VOA

However, this apparent concurrence of U.S. Republicans with a $60 billion hold doesn’t mirror sentiments in Europe. The European Union continues to advocate for a plan to provide Ukraine with weapons as a donation, rather than as a sale. European nations, for their part, had intended to expand their defense industrial capacity to produce no less than 1 million artillery tools. 

Unfortunately, it quickly became evident that Europe could not produce such a significant quantity within the stipulated timeframe. Adding to this predicament, Berlin declared that it would not supply Kyiv with the Taurus long-range air-to-ground missile. Moreover, the absence of government contracts has impeded the production of this missile, upon which Ukraine had high hopes.

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