President Donald Trumps campaign, during a 2016 meeting with a prominent pro-Ukraine advocacy group in Washington, made it clear that Trump wasnt prepared to automatically send military aid to Ukraine to confront Russia, and this angered the Ukraine advocates in attendance, a Trump campaign co-chairman told The Epoch Times.
Sam Clovis, national co-chairman of Trumps 2016 campaign, said Trumps position at the time was identical to the position that he took in withholding $250 million in approved aid from Ukraine while in office, based on his stated belief that NATO member countries should pay their fair share for their participation in the transnational defense alliance.
While Ukraine isnt a member of NATO, it aspires to be one.
Clovis met with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) in June 2016 in Washington. The New York-based group describes itself as “the largest representation of 1.5 million Americans of Ukrainian descent,” uniting “20 national organizations and over 70 branches nationwide.”
“They wanted us to confront Russia and provide military aid to Ukraine,” Clovis told The Epoch Times in an interview. “We told them we couldnt do anything until we had better information. I dont think they were very happy with that.
“They asked us, very clearly and very forcefully, what we were going to do about Ukraine. I said we would take a look when the election was over, if we won, at what the situation was and we would evaluate that. It was not appropriate for us to be making policy decisions without the full information available on Ukraine.
“We made it very clear. One, we were not going to make a statement on Ukraine. Two, we expected the countries that are part of NATO to pay their load. And at the time, there were only five countries doing that.
“Right now, I think we are suffering mightily in a readiness perspective. I dont think this nation needs to be the police force of the world. We have a lot of people in Congress, and were hearing a lot of chatter out there from the hawks that are globalists and they want us to go be the policeman of the world.
“Its totally inappropriate to use the U.S. tax dollars on that. We need to make sure our allies are out there supporting their own defense, and our allies are protected by us. But its not appropriate for us to pay the bill for everybody else.”
Andrij Dobrinsky, UCCAs communications director, offered his own recollection of the June meeting, which he said involved himself and a handful of other members of his group.
“The main thing was about arming Ukraine, and there was something to the effect that Ukraine would be armed without limit,” Dobrinsky said, referring to his meeting with Clovis. “I dont recall any kind of qualifier on that.”
Referring to Cloviss claim that the campaign wouldnt commit to funding weaponry, Dobrinsky said, “That is not my recollection.”
Then-candidate Trump quickly angered Dobrinskys group with one of his public statements on Crimea.
“Mr. Trump started talking about the fact that when he was asked about Crimea, he was not supportive of that return” of the territory to Ukraine from Russia, Dobrinsky said. “We reached out to Mr. Clovis, saying this is a clear difference in what you said, and then, Mr. Trump decided to say something different. Mr. Clovis had no response for us.”
Trump generated controversy during an ABC interview, in which he said: “[Putin is] not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.”
Trump added that Putin is “there in a certain way, but Im not there yet.”
In an August 2016 statement promoting the Sixth Ukrainian World Forum, UCCA representative Roksolana Stojko-Lozynska said: “We addressed his co-chair, Mr. Sam Clovis, and expressed not only our surprise, but also our shock and indignation. His colleagues always apologize for his statements and tell us that, He didnt mean that, but then, we hear the same again.”
Politico later reported that “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire,” writing, “A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort, and Russia” during the 2016 campaign.
Tired of Paying the Bill
Clovis said that the pro-Ukraine groups recollection of the meeting is a “mischaracterization,” as evidenced by the fact that Trump or the campaign never put out a public statement committing to arming Ukraine, as Clovis said the group demanded.
“I did not say that we were going to support them if the candidate was elected,” he said.
“They also mischaracterized what the candidate was saying about that effort in general. What he was saying was, We were not going to be the policemen of the world. I think they interpreted what he said as saying he was not going to support Ukraine.
“They were very upset with the fact that we would not make a commitment before the election.
“It would be irresponsible. It would be foolish. We were tired of paying the bill for everyone else.”
Clovis noted that the pro-Ukraine group was also “upset” about foreign policy language in the 2016 Republican platform.
“His position has not changed,” Clovis said about Trump. “We were clear in the campaign we were expecting our NATO allies to pay their fair shareRead More – Source