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Jul 9, 2024, 9:31pm EDT

Trump or Biden, Ukraine focused on building ‘arsenal for democracy’ with US, top minister says

Oleksandr Kamyshin. Annegret Hilse/Reuters
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The News

No matter who wins the US election, Ukraine will become an “arsenal for democracy,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, the Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industries, said at an event in Washington, DC, that took place on day one of the NATO summit.

Kamyshin spoke hours after Ukraine’s state-owned arms manufacturer opened an office in Kyiv to help foster joint US-Ukraine defense projects. “We want to be closer to your defense industry,” he said at the EU Defense Night, which was co-hosted by Semafor.

US Republicans have a history of defense spending and a strong security agenda, Kamyshin noted. His comments come as other European officials in Washington have sought to build ties with the GOP — many European diplomats are concerned that the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s commitment to protecting Ukraine and Europe can’t be taken for granted.

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“We are looking forward to work with Democratic America or Republican America,” Laurynas Kasčiūnas, the Lithuanian Minister of Defense, also said at the event. “Republicans are very much connected with the defense industry.”

Kasčiūnas made the case that Lithuania was well placed to work with a future Trump administration, arguing that, along with the rest of the Baltic states, Lithuania was among NATO’s top spenders. He also added that “procurement from the United States defense industry, we are ready to do it.”

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Despite the charm offensive, some Republican foreign-policy experts have warned that Eastern Europe will need to do more on defense to secure US support.

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“I don’t think it’s pretty impressive that Lithuania is spending 3 percent; Estonia spends 3 percent. If I were them, I would spend 10, if they’re serious about how threatening the Russians are,” Elbridge Colby, a former Trump official that has been touted for top roles in a future Republican administration, told Politico.

Trump has previously suggested he would encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member that was not paying its fair share.

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