Former Vice President Mike Pence challenged his former boss’s claims that he could end the war in Ukraine in a day, asserting the only way the war would end that quickly is if the United States conceded on nearly every term Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking.
Former President Donald Trump has said on multiple occasions that he could end the war in Ukraine within 24 hours as president by starting negotiations between the warring sides.
In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Mr. Pence challenged Mr. Trump’s peace claims. Mr. Pence said he believes the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war ends “by giving the Ukrainians what they need to win.”
“My former running mate likes to talk about solving it in a day,” said Mr. Pence, who is now running against Mr. Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. “The only way you’d solve this war in a day is if you gave Vladimir Putin what he wanted.”
The former vice president raised further concern that Ukraine needs continued support or Russian forces will continue their march west into countries that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. The NATO alliance, of which the United States is a member, includes a mutual defense provision wherein all member nations would come to the defense of one member if they were attacked. Mr. Pence’s claim is that after taking over Ukraine, Russia would risk a broader war with the 31-country NATO alliance, which includes the nuclear-armed United States, United Kingdom, and France.
“I would tell you, if Vladimir Putin overruns Ukraine, if he simply wears down the United States and West, I have no doubt in my mind that’s going to cross a border, maybe Lithuania itself or Estonia or Latvia or the Baltics,” Mr. Pence told Fox News. “And those will be countries where we would have to send our armed forces to go and fight under our NATO treaty.”
“So I think it’s in the interest of our country to give [Ukraine] what they need to stop [Russia] there, repel them there,” Mr. Pence added.
Mr. Pence’s position on the war in Ukraine is similar to that of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who last month suggested NATO would be forced into a direct conflict with Russia if Zelenskyy’s Ukrainian government fell.
“If any candidate thinks supporting Ukraine is too costly, are they ready to go to war? Are they ready to fight? Send their children? Die?” Mr. Zelenskyy said in an interview with NBC that aired on June 16. “They will have to do it anyway if NATO enters this war, and if Ukraine fails and Russia occupies us, they will move on to the Baltics or Poland or some other NATO country. And then the U.S. will have to choose between keeping NATO or entering the war.”
Mr. Pence met with Mr. Zelenskyy during a surprise June 29 visit to Ukraine.
2024 Candidates Divided on Ukraine
Mr. Pence told Fox News that the reason Russia didn’t attack Ukraine during the Trump administration is because the U.S. military was strong and the Trump administration made it clear that it was willing to use its military force as a deterrence. Mr. Pence said that’s the argument he’d make with Mr. Trump in a debate.
While Mr. Trump has called for renewed peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, President Joe Biden has continued to arm Ukrainian forces; most recently approving controversial cluster munitions and for Ukraine.
The Biden administration has approved a number of powerful weapons systems for Ukraine, such as HIMARS rocket artillery, Patriot air-defense missiles, M1A1 Abrams tanks, and F-16 fighter jets. Though the Biden administration has been gradually approving new weapons for Ukraine, Mr. Pence has said that if elected he would approve those weapons systems at a faster rate than the current administration.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy—two more candidates in the Republican presidential primary field—have, like Trump, signaled opposition to protracting the war in Ukraine.
During an interview with Nikkei Asia in April, Mr. DeSantis said, “It’s in everybody’s interest to try to get to a place where we can have a cease-fire.”
Mr. Ramaswamy said his peace plan would entail ceding portions of Ukraine to Russia, permanently blocking Ukraine from joining NATO, ending U.S. and NATO sanctions on Russia, and closing NATO bases in Eastern Europe. In return, Ramaswamy would seek a Russian commitment to completely end any military partnership it has with China; reenter the pre-2023 New Start nuclear non-proliferation treaty with the United States; withdraw all nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities from Belarus, Kaliningrad, and all Russian-annexed regions of Ukraine; and withdraw all Russian military forces from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Democratic presidential candidate currently challenging Mr. Biden, has also shared his support for a peace settlement.
“We will offer to withdraw our troops and nuclear-capable missiles from Russia’s borders. Russia will withdraw its troops from Ukraine and guarantee its freedom and independence,” Mr. Kennedy’s campaign website states. “[United Nations] peacekeepers will guarantee peace to the Russian-speaking eastern regions [of Ukraine]. We will put an end to this war. We will put an end to the suffering of the Ukrainian people. That will be the start of a broader program of demilitarization of all countries.”