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17.05.2017

Trump ally Gingrich expects tougher US stance on Russia, military aid to Ukraine

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to U.S. President Donald J. Trump, told the Kyiv Post on May 16 that he expects the administration’s stance against Russia will harden.

“I don’t know, but I would be surprised if they don’t increase the lethality of the weapons that are made available to Ukraine,” Gingrich said. “I think we want to maximize the ability of Ukrainians to defend themselves, without necessarily forcing Russia into a major escalation. On the other hand, one has to ask: How, given Syria and everything else, how many places can (Russian President Vladimir) Putin extend himself without just gradually breaking their economy?”

Emphasizing that he was not speaking for the Trump administration, Gingrich said that “looking at what’s going on, looking at the people in charge now. They’re very tough-minded. They’re aware you have this low-grade war going on and Ukrainians are at a disadvantage. It’s not in our interest for Ukrainians to be at a disadvantage. We should figure out what are the most useful force multipliers that would be helpful in raising the costs to the Russian so they decide they can’t continue their adventure in eastern Ukraine.”

Aside from the prospect of greater military assistance to Ukraine, Gingrich also raised the prospect that the Trump administration will eventually favor tougher sanctions against the Kremlin.

“I think they have really begun to reluctantly conclude that there may have to be additional sanctions. They’re trying to find a way to get Putin’s attention,” Gingrich said. “I don’t know if anything is effective with Putin. What would be effectively ultimately is if his support inside Russia craters, because it’s just not working.”

But Gingrich said that Ukraine and other nations cannot expect greater government financial assistance because Trump doesn’t consider it to be effective. Instead, he said, the administration is likely to encourage greater private sector investment in Ukraine.

“If you were to look at all the different places we spend money (in government), you could find lots of places to cut,” Gingrich said. “They will try to think through to what degree we can find a way to maximize private sector investment. Their bias will be to try to get companies to come in that are permanent rather than having our bureaucracy give the Ukrainian bureaucracy money, which they think distorts the economy.”

Gingrich came to Kyiv at the invitation of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation as part of its public lecture series, which last year attracted former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The lecture series is one of the many philanthropic projects for the billionaire oligarch, who is also known for his annual Yalta European Strategy conference, support of scholarships through his WorldWide Studies program and his art center.

While the Pinchuk Foundation did not disclose Pinchuk’s speaking fees, Politico reported on Dec. 2 that Gingrich is “cashing in” on Trump’s popularity and his role as a close ally and informal adviser. Citing Gingrich’s agency, Worldwide Speakers Group, the ex-House speaker’s speaking fees have reached $75,000 plus expenses for appearances in the United States.

The Republican Gingrich, who turns 74 on June 17, served in the U.S. Congress from 1979 until 1999 and as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999.

A video of the speech and more extensive Kyiv Post coverage of Gingrich’s May 16 appearance at the Diplomatic Academy in Kyiv will be forthcoming.

Source: KyivPost
Author: Brian Bonner
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