Has Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky just initiated his next publicity stunt? After all, just days ago he publicly complained that war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas is "taking away the focus" from the Ukraine conflict.
Now, he's lashed out at former President Trump while inviting him to come and see the war in Ukraine for himself. Zelensky said the provocative words in a new NBC “Meet the Press” interview. He sarcastically batted down Trump's prior claims that he could negotiate peace within 24 hours.
Zelensky responds to Trump saying he could end the Ukraine war in 24hrs:— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 5, 2023
"I invite President Trump. If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes ... to explain to President Trump that he can't manage this war. He can't bring peace, because of Putin." pic.twitter.com/WqGFsCDKoC
"Former President Trump said that about 24 hours, that he can manage it and finish the war," Zelensky said in response. "For me, what can I say? So he’s very welcome as well."
“President Biden was here, and I think he understood some details which you can understand only being here," Zelensky added. "So I invite President Trump. If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes," he said in a swipe and direct challenge to Trump.
Zelensky then emphasized that achieving peace or a ceasefire deal is not an option so long as President Vladimir Putin is in power. He's maintained this staunch position since nearly the start of the war.
“He can’t bring peace because of Putin," the Ukrainian leader told NBC further. "If he’s not trying and if he’s not ready to give our territory to this terrible man, to Putin, if you are not ready to give it, if you are not ready to give our independence, he can’t manage it."
Many outside observers have emphasized that the only way to lasting ceasefire is to get Kiev to agree to territorial concessions in the east - but this is the very thing that Zelensky says in a non-starter. The Zelensky government has also held on to the dream of 'liberating' Crimea, which has been under clear Russian control for well over half a decade.
Trump over the weekend reiterated that he's the only candidate who can prevent World War Three, telling the Florida Republican Party’s "Freedom Summit" in Kissimmee that "we are closer than anyone understands" to "obliteration."
U.S. presidential candidate and former president Donald Trump told Republicans at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that he was the only candidate who could prevent ‘World War Three’ pic.twitter.com/N8BNQ5Dg3w— Reuters (@Reuters) March 5, 2023
Trump also told the crowd that "When you think of it, how important elections are, you’d have millions of people alive right now if the 2020 election was not rigged. They would be alive. Ukraine, Israel. The attack would have never been made. All of these people would be alive, the cities would be thriving."
This type of rhetoric has not only angered the Ukrainian government, which sees in Trump a manifestation of GOP resistance to a 'black check' approach to funding Kiev, but also ardent Ukraine supporters and hawks, including the neocons.