Zelensky invites Trump to the frontline

Zelensky invites Trump to the frontline

Ukrainian leader says US presidential contender who belittled NATO needs to see ‘real war’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)

MUNICH - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited Donald Trump to travel with him to the frontlines of Russia’s full-scale invasion of his country so that the former US leader can experience “real war”.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, where he’s on his latest trip to shore up support among allies, Zelensky drew applause from delegates with his invitation to Trump, who has called into question the US commitment to transatlantic security during his campaign for reelection.

If he returns to office after the November vote, Trump is considering scaled-back commitments to some NATO members if they don’t meet spending targets as well as pushing Ukraine to negotiate an end to the war, people familiar with his thinking told Bloomberg this week.

Zelensky said during a live interview on stage that it’s important to maintain ties to US officials from both sides of the political divide and that Ukraine “always wanted to involve them in real information, real war”.

“Mr Trump, if he will come, I am ready even to go with him to the frontline,” he added. “We have to demonstrate to people who are decision makers what does it mean. The real war, not on Instagram.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is one of the frontrunners to become the next head of NATO, weighed in on Trump during a panel discussion in Munich, urging people to “stop moaning and whining and nagging” about him.

“We don’t spend more on defence or ramp up ammunition production because Trump may come back,” Rutte said. “All that whining and moaning, I hear that constantly over the last couple of days. Let’s stop doing that.”

Zelensky was later asked by Dutch television on the sidelines of a meeting with Rutte what he would expect if the Netherlands premier takes over from Jens Stoltenberg when the Norwegian’s mandate ends on Oct 1.

After joking that their talks “won’t be that polite”, Zelensky said that he will count on Rutte’s support for Ukraine’s bid to join the transatlantic defence alliance.

“All these days of the full-scale war, Mark strongly with all his team was with us,” he added. “And I know Mark — he will save the unity in NATO.”

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