Vivek Ramaswamy to call for end to US support for Ukraine and Nato exit from Eastern Europe

Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur and anti-woke asset manager turned Republican presidential hopeful, has a plan for ending Russia's year-and-a-half war on Ukraine – sort of.

The 38-year-old political newcomer will unveil what he describes as a plan to bring the brutal conflict to a close by halting American support for Kyiv and "negotiating a peace treaty with Russia that achieves a vital US security objective: ceasing Russia's growing military alliance with China".

In remarks to be delivered on Friday in New Hampshire to the Belknap County GOP Lincoln Day, Mr Ramaswamy will say his plan is the mirror-image approach of the late US president Richard Nixon's effort to break up the Soviet Union's alliance with the People's Republic of China, citing what he describes as Russian President Vladimir Putin's status as "the new Mao".

Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (AP)
Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (AP)

The Independent obtained a copy of his speech ahead of Friday's event. It cites a two-decade-old treaty between Russia and the PRC, as well as the "no limits" partnership unveiled by Mr Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping as evidence that a Sino-Russian alliance "presents the greatest military risk the US has ever faced" and accuses President Joe Biden of "pushing Russia into a closer military alliance with China which increases the risk of nuclear war" through his quarterbacking of US and Western support for Ukraine's defence.

While Mr Ramaswamy's prepared remarks call his solution to the conflict a "peace treaty," what he lays out does not appear to meet the definition of the term.

Peace treaties, by and large, represent final settlements to armed conflicts. Famous examples include the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the First World War, and the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco that formally brought an end to the Second World War.

What he instead proposes is an analogue to United Nations-enforced armistice that has been in force on the Korean Peninsula since 1953.

Under the terms of his plan, Kyiv would legitimise Russia's occupation of Ukraine's Donbas region by ceding it to Russia. The US and the West would end all sanctions on Russia, cease defence assistance to Ukraine, and Nato would prohibit Ukraine from ever becoming a member of the 31-nation defensive pact. The alliance would also roll back troop deployments that have taken place on its eastern frontier since 2016 – including closing all bases on Nato territory in Eastern Europe.

In return, he proposes that Russia would exit its 2001 treaty with China, end the "no limits" partnership while ceasing any military cooperation with Beijing, rejoin the New START arms control treaty, withdraw any forces deployed in Latin America and remove "all nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities" from Belarus, any Ukrainian territory it has annexed, as well as the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, which is Russia's only ice-free port for its Baltic Fleet.

His prepared remarks do not offer any evidence that Russia would be willing to cease cooperation with China or give up its military presence in Kaliningrad, which has housed a major naval base since the Soviet era. Nor does he provide any evidence to support his claim that Moscow would be willing to cut off decades of warm relations with Beijing in return for an end to Western sanctions, particularly since the Sino-Russian relationship has existed since the dawn of the 21st century.

Despite multiple credible reports from US officials and other Western governments which say Kyiv's defence forces have dealt a major blow to Russia's conventional warfare capability, he plans to say that he believes Ukraine "will not defeat Russia militarily" without "extraordinary intervention" on the part of the United States, which he claims would lessen America's ability to respond to a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

"Under my peace plan, Ukraine will still emerge with its sovereignty intact and Russia permanently diminished as a foe. Ukraine's best path to preserving its own security is to accept a US-negotiated agreement backstopped by Russian commitments to the US," he will say.

The rollout of his plan for the Ukraine conflict represents the political neophyte's first foray into foreign policy waters since he launched his presidential campaign earlier this year.

His opposition to continuing US defence assistance to Kyiv is in line with much of the pro-Trump wing of the GOP, which tends to view Russia far more favourably than the general US population.

In a press release, the Democratic National Committee condemned the plan as "siding against our ally as Vladimir Putin wages an unjust and violent war in Ukraine" and derided Mr Ramaswamy as a "MAGA Republican presidential hopeful".

"Vivek Ramaswamy is promising to end America's support of Ukraine – posing a threat to our allies on the ground and democracy itself," the DNC said.

The DNC also pointed out that Mr Ramaswamy's position syncs up with much of the GOP presidential field, including the two highest-polling candidates: Mr Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Mr Trump, who has long professed an affinity for Mr Putin and has described him in positive terms despite his having ordered an unprovoked invasion of another country, praised the war crime-laden invasion as "savvy" and "genius" just days after Russian tanks crossed over the Ukrainian border.

Mr DeSantis, who is a distant runner-up to Mr Trump in most polls of the GOP primary electorate, downplayed war – the largest land-based conflict on the European continent since 1945 – as a "territorial dispute" and a flight over "borderlands".

But James Stavridis, a retired four-star US Navy admiral who served as Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe from 2009 to 2013, was far more generous in his reaction to the plan.

Mr Stavridis told The Independent in an email that he is "all for creative ideas in international diplomacy" and said he "would love to be able to say that there is a chance of this type of settlement occurring". But he added that he could not say there would be such a chance.

For one, the former Nato commander said Mr Putin is "so deeply invested in the relationship with China" that there is "zero chance" he'd abandon his partnership with Mr Xi.

He added that in his estimation, Russia would "never" agree to give up Kaliningrad as a base for nuclear-capable forces, and said there is also no chance that Kyiv would agree to cede approximately 20 per cent of its territory to Moscow.

"Nor do I think that the west would be willing to completely walk away from Ukraine and deny providing them appropriate security guarantees, or even membership in NATO. The red lines for both sides are significant," he said.

But Mr Stavridis did say he believes a "Korean-style armistice" is the most likely outcome of the 14-month-old conflict, with the caveat that "it's too soon to know where those boundary lines might be or where the trade-offs could occur".

"Our job in the west is obvious, which is to give the Ukrainians everything they need in terms of material and training, so they can be at the best position when the negotiations ultimately begin," he said, adding later that "one thing [he knows] for sure" is that the Ukraine war presents "deeply complex issues with enormous, competing equities on all sides," with the chances of a simple settlement "within 24 hours" as Mr Trump suggested at a recent CNN town hall "approach[ing] negative infinity".

While the ex-Navy admiral was measured in his evaluation of Mr Ramaswamy’s plan, a prominent GOP foreign policy veteran was far less generous when asked to opine on his proposal.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime member of the upper’s chamber’s foreign relations committee, told The Independent on Thursday that the anti-woke businessman’s plan amounted to “rewarding aggression” and called him “somebody who really doesn’t understand how the world works”.

He added that rewarding Mr Putin for his aggression would result in China feeling empowered to take Taiwan.

“You know, I’m glad people don’t think that way when it came to our freedom,” he said. “Go study history and give me an example where aggression was rewarded where you got less of it”.

Senior Washington Correspondent Eric Garcia contributed reporting from Capitol Hill