Politico: Poland has a secret weapon to turn Donald Trump against Russia

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Poland is hoping its out-of-power populists can help turn Donald Trump against Russia and persuade him to further support Ukraine, Politico reported on May 6.

Trump has long pushed for NATO countries to increase their defense spending and unsettled international allies in February when he said he would allow Russia to do "whatever the hell they want" to member countries failing to meet defense spending criteria.

Polish President Andrzej Duda met with the former president in New York City on April 17, where the two "discussed the war between Russia and Ukraine, the conflict with Israel in the Middle East, and many other topics having to do with getting to world peace," a statement by the Trump campaign read.

A day after the meeting, Trump, who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and often criticized aid to Ukraine, wrote on social media: "As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us! GET MOVING EUROPE!"

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Duda also met with Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, with some crediting the meeting with helping the long-delayed vote on U.S. military aid for Ukraine.

"Duda is our Republican whisperer," Michal Baranowski, who leads the German Marshall Fund’s Poland office, told Politico.

Conservative politicians close to the formerly ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and Duda played up the apparent role he had played in persuading Trump and Johnson to take a more pro-Ukraine stance.

"A big round of applause for President Andrzej Duda, who has gained powerful resources to fight Russian imperialism," said Dariusz Matecki, a lawmaker of the Sovereign Poland party allied with PiS.

But others were less inclined to believe that Polish officials had such sway over U.S. politics. EU lawmaker Andrzej Halicki told Politico the idea was "nonsense."

Ahead of U.S. presidential elections later this year and a possible Trump victory, his stance on Russia and Ukraine is cause for concern in European capitals, particularly Kyiv.

Trump has repeatedly said he could end Russia’s war within 24 hours if elected president, without specifying the steps for reaching a peace deal between Kyiv and Moscow.

The former president "made it very clear" that he believed Ukraine "must be part of Russia," his former advisor Fiona Hill said, according to The Guardian, citing an excerpt from a book by The New York Times reporter David Sanger.

Read also: Opinion: Trump is Putin’s only hope now

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