LONDON — Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited Donald Trump to Kyiv, but on one condition.
The Ukrainian president said the former U.S. president would be welcome to visit him in the capital — as long as Trump is able to stop the war with Russia within 24 hours, as he once promised.
Trump has boasted that, if he were president, he could end the war immediately by insisting Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin agree to a settlement, insisting he has a good relationship with both leaders. Trump, during his political career, has repeatedly gushed over Putin, who launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
“Yes please, Donald Trump — I invite you to Ukraine, to Kyiv,” Zelenskyy said, in an interview set to be aired Friday evening with U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 News. “If you can stop the war during 24 hours I think it will be enough to come to Kyiv, on any day I am here.”
Zelenskyy added that, if Trump does have a “formula” for ending the war, he wants to know what it is.
Although Ukraine is anxious to cultivate ties with the Republican front-runner and his allies ahead of November’s U.S. presidential election, Zelenskyy has every reason to be a wary of man who has little appetite for continued support of Ukraine’s resistance against Russian invasion.
Indeed, Trump has lavished praise on Putin for being “smart” by occupying “a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people” while only taking a relatively minor sanctions hit.
While in the White House, Trump was also impeached by the House of Representatives after it alleged he pressured Zelenskyy to pursue politically motivated investigations that might hurt Joe Biden’s White House bid, just as Kyiv sought more missiles from the United States.
The former president was acquitted by the Senate.
Trump now leads Biden in polling for multiple key battleground states, and MAGA Republicans on Capitol Hill are feuding over efforts to get a new tranche of Ukraine aid through the House of Representatives.
In a speech after his crushing victory in the Republican Iowa caucus this week, Trump also claimed that “Russia would not have attacked” if he were in the White House, as he and Putin “get along very well.”
Speaking in Davos earlier this week at the World Economic Forum, Zelenskyy tried to brush off fears about a plunge in military funding — most of which comes to Ukraine from the U.S. — if Trump returns, arguing that “one man cannot change the whole nation.”