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Friday, March 17, 2023

March 17, 2023

Former President Donald Trump placed the conflict in Ukraine within the European Union’s sphere of strategic interests and not of the US, saying that if he were president he would consider Washington’s aid to Ukraine only after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Alarmingly though, he warned that a nuclear war between the US and Russia is “absolutely” a risk under the current Joe Biden presidency.

When asked by Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson “What specifically is our objective in Ukraine, and how will we know when we’ve achieved it?”, Trump said the objective is to “help and secure Europe, but Europe isn't helping itself,” adding that it is “very unfair” for the US to largely foot the bill, especially since Europe “takes advantage of us on trade and other things.”

Regarding whether he would be willing to fund and send material to Kiev, the former president said it would “strongly depend” on him meeting with Putin but stressed “Europe must pay.” In fact, he even highlighted that sanctions on Russia “have not been effective” and that “the opposite” occurred regarding its expected effectiveness.

Alarmingly, when asked on whether there is a risk of nuclear war between the US and Russia, Trump said “it depends on who the president of the United States is” but that it is “absolutely” a risk under President Biden.

For the Republican Party, US domestic interests are becoming increasingly paramount rather than European events. That is why any confrontation within Europe, including with Russia, is something that goes beyond the interests of most Republicans, especially as it is China posing as the greatest threat to US hegemony.

Trump’s speech should be seen as an electoral preparation and a fight to re-enter the White House. The former president’s foreign policy prioritized confrontation with China and only Russia to a lesser extent, something that has reversed since Biden entered the White House.

His interview with Tucker Carlson comes as he posted on March 12 to his social media network Truth: “With what is happening to our economy, and with the proposals being made on the LARGEST AND DUMBEST TAX INCREASE IN THE HISTORY OF THE USA, TIMES FIVES, JOE BIDEN WILL GO DOWN AS THE HERBERT HOOVER OF THE MODERN AGE. WE WILL HAVE A GREAT DEPRESSION FAR BIGGER AND MORE POWERFUL THAN THAT OF 1929. AS PROOF, THE BANKS ARE ALREADY STARTING TO COLLAPSE.”

His social media post came amid reports on the bankruptcy of American Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). California state regulators shut down SVB on March 10, making it the biggest US bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis.

The bankruptcy of the SVB was associated with the rise in the Federal Reserve’s official interest rate, which caused a depreciation of assets on the balance sheets of many financial institutions. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), cumulative bank losses in 2022 amounted to $620 billion.

As politicians blame each other for the SVB collapse, including allegations that a Trump-era law is responsible, the former president is not wrong to say that the US is on its way to a “great depression” that will be more catastrophic than 1929. The immediate impact of the SVB collapse is seen with Goldman Sachs cutting its estimate of the increase in the US GDP this year by three-tenths of a percentage point to 1.2%, a surprising move considering Goldman is among the minority of economists to not predict a recession in 2023.

To avert a complete crisis, depositors at SVB were assured by federal regulators that they can access all their money, and not just the $250,000 insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. However, many economists are still sceptical that the impending crisis can be averted in the US, particularly for small and medium banks.

It is for this reason that Trump and other Republicans are taking partisan views from what the American media and the Biden administration have conjured as justifications on why it is necessary to pump billions of dollars to Kiev. Rather than deal with the economic crisis, the Biden administration is prioritizing sustained aggression against Russia.

On March 11, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak wrote on Twitter: “Polish fighters once again escorted an American B-52 bomber. This is an important part of the interoperability exercise. Together, we care for the security of NATO's eastern flank.”

The US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, held manoeuvres near the borders with Russia. This was an attempt to intimidate Moscow and show that they are ready to use tactical nuclear weapons, perhaps even against St. Petersburg.

It also another clear demonstration that Washington has no intentions of de-escalating hostilities with Russia and why Trump was not exaggerating or being alarmist when he said there is “absolutely” a risk of nuclear war under President Biden.