December 8, 2023

Former President Donald Trump has reportedly declined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s offer to visit Ukraine over concerns that it could “create a conflict of interest” with President Joe Biden.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that his negotiation skills would successfully put an end to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war within “24 hours.” Zelensky has expressed skepticism about the claim on more than one occasion, while also arguing that the former president had done little to quell Ukrainian-Russian tensions during his time in the White House.

The issue was raised again during an interview with Zelensky that aired on NBC‘s Meet the Press on Sunday, prompting the Ukrainian president to invite Trump to Kyiv. Zelensky said that he would personally explain to Trump “in 24 minutes” that Russian President Vladimir Putin would make negotiating a satisfactory end to the war impossible.

“Former President Trump said that [in] about 24 hours, that he can manage it and finish the war,” Zelensky said. “I invite President Trump … If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes—yes, 24 minutes. Not more. Yes. Not more—24 minutes to explain [to] President Trump that he can’t manage this war … He can’t bring peace because of Putin.”

Trump Turns Down Zelensky Invitation to Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, and then-U.S. President Donald Trump, right, are pictured in New York City on September 25, 2019. Trump on Monday turned down an offer from Zelensky to visit Ukraine during its war with invading Russian forces, reportedly expressing concerns about a “conflict of interest” with the Biden administration.

In a statement to Newsmax on Monday, Trump declined the invitation while stressing that he had “great respect” for Zelensky. The ex-president also claimed that the invitation was “inappropriate” due to the unspecified conflict of interest with the Biden administration.

“I have great respect for President Zelensky, but think it would be inappropriate to go to Ukraine at this time,” Trump said. “The Biden administration is currently dealing with him, and I would not want to create a conflict of interest.”

Newsweek reached out for comment to Trump’s office and the White House via email on Monday.

Trump claimed in a January Truth Social post that Russia “would never have” invaded Ukraine had he remained in the White House, while boasting that he could still negotiate an end to the war “within 24 hours.”

The former president has since repeated the claim multiple times. He has provided few details on how he would achieve the feat, beyond saying that there are “things” he would say to Zelensky and Putin that he “won’t reveal” but would “guarantee that this war will end immediately.”

During a CNN interview in September, Zelensky urged Trump to “publicly share his idea” and “stop the war and stop all this tragedy and stop Russian aggression,” while adding that “the idea is how to take the part of our territory and to give it to Putin, that is not the peace formula.”

During his recent Meet the Press interview, Zelensky also urged U.S. lawmakers to send more military aid to Ukraine. He argued that Putin was attempting to “divide Europe to weaken the United States of America” and could go on to attack NATO countries, which would obligate the U.S. to become directly involved.

“If Russia will kill all of us [in Ukraine],” Zelensky said, “they will attack NATO countries and you will send your sons and daughters. And … I’m sorry, but the price will be higher.”

Biden has proposed a $106 billion aid package that would include funds to Ukraine, Israel, Gaza humanitarian aid and U.S.-Mexico border security. The Republican-led House countered with a standalone $14.3 billion aid package to Israel only, putting Ukraine aid and the other funds on the sidelines.