WASHINGTON, June 25 — Two key advisers to Donald Trump have presented him with a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine - if he wins the November 5 presidential election - that involves telling Ukraine it will only get more US weapons if it enters peace talks.

The United States would at the same time warn Moscow that any refusal to negotiate would result in increased US support for Ukraine, retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, one of Trump’s national security advisers, said in an interview.

Under the plan drawn up by Kellogg and Fred Fleitz, who both served as chiefs of staff in Trump’s National Security Council during his 2017-2021 presidency, there would be a ceasefire based on prevailing battle lines during peace talks, Fleitz said.

They have presented their strategy to Trump, and the Republican presidential candidate responded favorably, Fleitz added. “I’m not claiming he agreed with it or agreed with every word of it, but we were pleased to get the feedback we did,” he said.


Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said only statements made by Trump or authorised members of his campaign should be deemed official.

The strategy outlined by Kellogg and Fleitz is the most detailed plan yet by associates of Trump, who has said he could quickly settle the war in Ukraine if he beats President Joe Biden in the November 5 election, though he has not said how he would do that.

The proposal would mark a big shift in the US position on the war and would face opposition from European allies and within Trump’s own Republican Party.


The Kremlin said any peace plan proposed by a possible future Trump administration would have to reflect the reality on the ground but that Russian President Vladimir Putin remained open to talks.

“The value of any plan lies in the nuances and in taking into account the real state of affairs on the ground,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters.

“President Putin has repeatedly said that Russia has been and remains open to negotiations, taking into account the real state of affairs on the ground,” he said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Tuesday that freezing hostilities at the prevailing front lines would be “strange,” given Russia had violated international law by invading Ukraine.

“Ukraine has an absolutely clear understanding and it is spelled out in the peace formula proposed by President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy, it is clearly stated there - peace can only be fair and peace can only be based on international law,” he told Reuters.

The White House National Security Council said the Biden administration would not force Ukraine into negotiations with Russia.

“President Biden believes that any decisions about negotiations are up to Ukraine,” said NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson.

Nato membership on hold

The core elements of the plan were outlined in a publicly available research paper published by the “America First Policy Institute,” a Trump-friendly think tank where Kellogg and Fleitz hold leadership positions.

Kellogg said it would be crucial to get Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table quickly if Trump wins the election.

“We tell the Ukrainians, ‘You’ve got to come to the table, and if you don’t come to the table, support from the United States will dry up,’” he said. “And you tell Putin, ‘He’s got to come to the table and if you don’t come to the table, then we’ll give Ukrainians everything they need to kill you in the field.’”

According to their research paper, Moscow would also be coaxed to the table with the promise of Nato membership for Ukraine being put off for an extended period.

Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine in February 2022. Until some gains by Russia in recent months, the front lines barely moved since the end of that year, despite tens of thousands of dead on both sides in relentless trench warfare, the bloodiest fighting in Europe since World War Two.

Fleitz said Ukraine need not formally cede territory to Russia under their plan. Still, he said, Ukraine was unlikely to regain effective control of all its territory in the near term.

“Our concern is that this has become a war of attrition that’s going to kill a whole generation of young men,” he said.

A lasting peace in Ukraine would require additional security guarantees for Ukraine, Kellogg and Fleitz said. Fleitz added that “arming Ukraine to the teeth” was likely to be a key element of that.

“President Trump has repeatedly stated that a top priority in his second term will be to quickly negotiate an end to the Russia-Ukraine war,” Trump spokesperson Cheung said.

Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer said Trump is not interested in standing up to Putin or defending democracy.

Upper hand

Some Republicans will be reticent to pay for more resources to Ukraine under the plan. The US has spent more than US$70 billion (RM329.3 billion) on military aid for Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion.

“What (Trump’s supporters) want to do is reduce aid, if not turn off the spigot,” said Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Putin said this month that the war could end if Ukraine agreed to drop its ambitions to join Nato and hand over four eastern and southern provinces claimed by Russia.

During a meeting of the United Nations Security Council last week, French and British ambassadors reiterated their view that peace can only be sought when Russia withdraws from Ukrainian territory, a position Kyiv shares.

Several analysts also expressed concern that the plan by Kellogg and Fleitz could give Moscow the upper hand in talks.

“What Kellogg is describing is a process slanted toward Ukraine giving up all of the territory that Russia now occupies,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who worked on Russia policy.

During a podcast interview last week, Trump ruled out committing US troops to Ukraine and appeared sceptical of making Ukraine a Nato member. He has indicated he would quickly move to cut aid to Kyiv if elected.

Biden has consistently pushed for more Ukraine aid, and his administration supports its eventual ascension to Nato. Earlier this month, Biden and Zelenskiy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement. — Reuters