As Ukraine fears a new Russian offensive "at any time," Republican lawmakers are remaining silent on the Trump campaign's reported role in scaling back calls for assisstance to the eastern European country in the Republican party platform.
While many GOP lawmakers, who have for years supported providing lethal aid to Ukraine, condemned the change in statements to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, none held the Trump campaign accountable for the shift in language.
"Senator Rubio has long warned that Russia is a rogue actor that is destabilizing European security and undermining the international order," Alex Burgos, spokesman for Florida senator Marco Rubio, told TWS in a statement. "He rejects any attempt to soften the Republican Party's support for the government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russian aggression."
A number of other lawmakers, including Arizona senator John McCain, who has led the charge on providing arms to Ukraine since 2014, did not respond to request for comment or provide a statement on the weakened language.
The platform, which calls for "providing appropriate assistance" to Ukraine rather than "lethal defensive weapons," echoes the Obama administration position that McCain, Rubio, and other Republican senators have fought.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who helped launch the Senate Ukraine Caucus, condemned the platform change in a statement. While his statement linked to a report that revealed the Trump campaign's role in stripping the traditional language, the senator did not fault Trump.
"It is deeply troubling that specific language in the Republican Party platform calling for defensive lethal aid to Ukraine was removed in favor of watered-down language that means little," Portman said. "I will continue to lead this fight in Congress and stand by our ally."
Portman, who is facing a tough reelection test this year, called the Obama administration's refusal to send lethal aid to Ukraine "outrageous." The administration has resisted congressional calls to supply Ukraine with lethal aid out of, in part, a weariness to engage in military conflict.
"We are not interested in a proxy war," Secretary of State John Kerry said last February. "Our objective is to change Russia's behavior."
Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe told TWS that the Obama administration had created a "vacuum of leadership," which Vladimir Putin is currently filling, and reiterated his support for arming Ukraine.
The senator did not comment on Trump's role in the platform change, but said that the businessman would, under expert guidance, help the Ukrainians defend themselves.
"I have been and continue to be a long-time supporter of Ukraine and providing lethal assistance to help Ukraine defend itself and its freedom," Inhofe told TWS in a statement. "I believe Trump realizes a need to stand with our friends, and that when he is elected and surrounded by the best leaders in defense and foreign policy, he will work with Republicans to help the Ukrainians build their capacity to defend their territory and sovereignty."
Trump has denied playing a role in the platform change. His campaign manager Paul Manafort told NBC that "no one" from the Trump campaign advocated for it. Manafort lobbied on behalf of former Ukrainian president and Putin ally Viktor Yanukovich for years.