Former US President Donald Trump signaled to his fellow Republicans that he is not opposed to approving military aid for Ukraine, but that it should “exist in the form of a loan” after months of impasse in Congress.

“We’re looking at it right now, and they’re talking about it, and we’re thinking about making it in the form of a loan instead of just a gift. We keep handing out gifts of billions and billions of dollars, and we’ll take a look at it.

“But much more importantly to me is the fact that Europe has to step up, and they have to give money. They have to equalize. If they don’t equalize I’m very upset about it, because they’re affected much more than we are,” Trump said at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as reported by The Hill.

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It should be noted that total European aid has surpassed US aid for Ukraine, though a significant gap remains between EU commitments and allocations, which would require the bloc to double its current level and pace of arms assistance to fully replace US aid, as reported by the Kiel Institute.

Trump’s comments came after months of impasse in the US Congress over a partisan divide, in which a $60 billion military aid package Kyiv desperately needed – evidenced by the recent acute shortages in artillery munitions and air defenses to protect critical infrastructure – remains nowhere to be seen.

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Democrats in both chambers, as well as some Republicans, have been campaigning for the Ukraine aid package, but opinions within the Republican party have been divided, with some hardline Republicans fully objecting to further aid to Ukraine.

The divide has led to a dilemma for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who said he would consider aid for Ukraine but has refused to put the bill on the floor thus far in fear of being ousted by the hardliners within his own party, a threat Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has made.

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Democrats, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, have said they would accept the loan in the absence of other options.

Trump, speaking at his Mar-a-Lago estate with Johnson by his side, also praised Johnson for “doing a job” and said it was “not an easy situation for any speaker,” which could be interpreted as a move to lessen the divide within the party. 

Trump’s stance on Ukraine has been mostly ambiguous, with him first praising Russian President Vladimir Putin as “genius” and “savvy” in February 2022 following the full-scale invasion, preceded and followed by a longstanding skepticism over aid to Ukraine.

However, in February, Trump alleged current US President Joe Biden – who has officially called for more aid to Kyiv – to be a weak leader who will “give” Ukraine to Putin, suggesting that he would do more for Ukraine.

In an earlier comment made in September 2023, Trump also said he would end the war in Ukraine within 24 hours without providing details, with a recent Washington Post report claiming that Trump’s plan would require Ukraine to cede Donbas and Crimea, which would be a strategically significant departure from Washington’s current policy.

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