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Debate: Biden warns of Putin’s ambitions beyond Ukraine, while Trump rejects Putin’s terms for ending war in Ukraine

While condemning the US’s military aid to Ukraine, Trump still stated that he does not accept Putin’s conditions for ending the war, which include Russia retaining claimed Ukrainian territory and Ukraine abandoning its NATO bid, while President Biden cautioned that Putin seeks to reestablish the Soviet Empire.
A screenshot from a video Biden and Trump in the First 2024 Presidential Debate
A screenshot from a video Biden and Trump in the First 2024 Presidential Debate Source: The Wall Street Journal YouTube
Debate: Biden warns of Putin’s ambitions beyond Ukraine, while Trump rejects Putin’s terms for ending war in Ukraine

During a US presidential debate, candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden clashed over their stances on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s actions, and the role of NATO. 

Some Democratic officials voiced concerns over Biden’s shaky performance during the debate, as Trump aggressively defended his position, but made numerous false claims.

Trump argued that the war would not have started under his watch and criticized Biden for the high levels of aid provided to Ukraine. He pledged to negotiate a settlement between Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy if elected.

Russia won’t stop on Ukraine 

In response, Biden contended that Trump encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine and clarified that most of the assistance to Ukraine comes in the form of US-made weapons, benefiting the American economy.

Biden said Putin wants to reestablish Soviet Union and warned that if Russia succeeds in Ukraine, NATO allies like Poland could be next. 

“He [Putin] killed thousands of people and he has made one thing clear. He wants to reestablish what was part of the Soviet Empire. He wants all of Ukraine. And then you think he’ll stop there?  If he takes Ukraine, what do you think happens to Poland or Belarus,  what do you think happens to other NATO countries?” Biden said.

Military aid to Ukraine 

Trump criticized the financial cost of US support for Ukraine, claiming that “Biden led everybody along” and has given Ukraine over $200 billion. 

“Every time that Zelenskyy comes to this country he walks away with $60 billion,” Trump said, calling the Ukrainian leader “the greatest salesman ever.” 

 “I’m only saying the money that we’re spending on this war and we shouldn’t be spending it,”  Trump said.

But Biden pushed back, clarifying that “all that money we give Ukraine [is] for weapons we make here in the United States. We give them the weapons, not the money at this point.”

Are Putin’s terms to end war in Ukraine acceptable?

When asked if Putin’s terms are acceptable, which include Russia keeping the Ukrainian territory it is already claimed and Ukraine abandoning its bid to join NATO, Trump replied “no” and reiterated that the war should not have started in the first place. 

“People [in Ukraine] being killed so needlessly, so stupidly and I will get it settled fast before I take office,” Trump said.

Membership in NATO

Biden accused Trump of wanting to withdraw from NATO, emphasizing that American strength lies in its alliances. 

He argued that these alliances have helped prevent major wars in Europe and questioned what would happen if Putin were to continue his aggression against NATO members, given the organization’s Article 5 agreement that an attack on one is an attack on all. 

“You want to start the nuclear war he keeps talking about, go ahead,  let Putin go in and control Ukraine and then move on to Poland and other places. See what happens,” Biden said. 

The president highlighted his success in rallying support for Ukraine from 50 nations worldwide, including Japan and South Korea, as they recognize the global threat posed by the conflict. He stressed that historically, no major war in Europe has been contained within the continent’s borders.

Fear of World War III

Trump criticized Biden’s policies, particularly his military strategies, as “insane,” claiming that under Biden’s leadership, the United States is closer to World War III than anyone can imagine. 

“We are very close to World War III and he’s driving us there. And President Xi of China and Kim Jong-un of North Korea, all of them, and Putin – they don’t respect him, they don’t fear him,” Trump said. 

Trump pointed out that Russia took land from previous administrations, including those of Bush and Obama, but did not take any territory during his presidency. He attributed this to his strong relationship with Putin and the Russian leader’s understanding that Trump would not tolerate any “games.” 

Trump accused Biden of putting the United States in a bad position with regard to Russia’s war in Ukraine, asserting that Ukraine is not winning the war and is running out of soldiers and people. 

“It’s so sad they’ve lost so many people and they’ve lost those gorgeous cities with the golden domes that are a thousand years old all because of him and stupid decisions,” Trump said.

According to recent Gallup polling data, former President Donald Trump’s popularity among the American public saw a boost, reaching its highest level since April 2020. His favorable rating now stands at 46%, marking a four-point increase from the previous survey conducted in December. Conversely, President Joe Biden’s favorability experienced a decline, dropping by four points to 37%. 

 

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