11:58 Jul. 19, 2016
Republican Party members strongly oppose their leader's position
Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.
Still, Republican delegates at last week's national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.
Of course, Trump is not the only politician to oppose sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. President Obama decided not to authorize it, despite recommendations to do so from his top Europe officials in the State Department and the military. The United States has provided Ukraine with non-lethal equipment and aid.
Trump's view of Russia has always been friendlier than most Republicans. He's said he would "get along very well" with Vladimir Putin and called it a "great honor" when Putin praised him. Donald Trump has done a lot of business in Russia and has been traveling there since 1987. Last August, he said of Ukraine joining NATO, "I wouldn't care." He traveled there in September, and he told Ukrainians their war is "really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us."
For Trump, the biggest threat to Europe is not Russia, according to people familiar with his thinking. He believes the United States should focus on helping Europe fight Islamist terrorism and open borders, not confronting Putin. He has called for a reduction of the U.S. commitment to NATO. He simply doesn't see Russia as a dangerous threat.