How Trump's resistance to back Ukraine's aid was broken and what Kyiv learned from it

Monday, 29 April 2024 —

"I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important," Speaker Mike Johnson said ahead of the crucial vote.

"To put it bluntly, I'd rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys," he added.

This statement followed by an even more sensational statement by former President Donald Trump regarding his agreement to approve aid to Ukraine.

Read more about how the positions of Donald Trump and Mike Johnson regarding the aid to Ukraine were changed in the article by Oleh Pavliuk, a European Pravda journalist – Who 'forced' Trump to give weapons to Ukraine? Reasons for a shift in the Republican elite.


Mike Johnson was accidentally appointed as the Speaker. He lacked significant experience in party work unlike his predecessor Kevin McCarthy. But he openly supported Donald Trump and sided with far-right Republicans who criticised aid to Ukraine, allowing him to gain their support.

According to those around Mike Johnson, he was well aware of how critical it was to back Ukraine.

But why did he eventually decide to put the aid package for Kyiv to a vote?

One of the turning points in changing Johnson's position, insiders say, was a meeting in the president's office in February 2024, attended by congressional party leaders. Although it did not lead to visible shifts, but the speaker then indicated his readiness to negotiate aid to Ukraine.

The White House efforts were accompanied by numerous briefings conducted for Johnson by top officials from the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. At one of the last briefings, in late March, the situation in Ukraine was described personally by CIA Director William Burns.

In addition to intelligence, Johnson's religiousness also played a role. US pro-Ukraine activists focused their efforts on this personal aspect of his life.

This story would not be complete without mentioning Donald Trump, who has influence in the Republican Party.

What led to Trump's shift regarding aid to Kyiv?

This was the result of numerous negotiations among Republicans, foreign guests (from former British Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron to current Polish President Andrzej Duda), and a touch of creativity.

Republicans made for Trump present the idea of providing financial aid to Ukraine as a loan as his own. After all, such a trick significantly increased the chances of supporting the Ukrainian package in Congress.

Another direction in persuading the former US president related to his idea of achieving peace "within 24 hours" and had a fairly simple logic: if Russia seizes Ukraine, Trump, upon returning to the White House, will not be able to negotiate any peace agreement. Because Moscow will end the war on its own terms.

This argument, among others, was conveyed to Trump by Mike Johnson during their personal meeting at Mar-a-Lago in early April.

The former US president publicly greenlit the House Speaker to submit his proposal to back Kyiv.

Thus, passing the latest aid package to Ukraine in the United States was the result of a combination of several circumstances.

Unfortunately, such situationality is not a guarantee that bipartisan and bicameral support for Ukraine will be preserved. On the other hand, perhaps such a situational approach is indeed the best strategy for dealing with Donald Trump, who has every chance of returning to the White House?

Fortunately, Ukraine's close allies already have successful experience in communicating with Trump.

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