Donald J. Trump (R) and Donald Tusk (L) during a plenary session on the second day of the G20 summit in Hamburg, 2017 in the days when Trump was the POTUS and Tusk the President of the European Council. Never allies, now likely to be enemies. EPA/FELIPE TRUEBA


Put up, or shut up: US Republicans tell Poland’s Tusk to take US migrants to release Ukraine aid


US Republicans have reacted strongly to what they felt was Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s excoriation of them for rejecting Washington’s aid package for Ukraine.

The outcry came after Tusk stated that “Reagan would be turning in his grave” and that Republicans had “let down Central and Eastern Europe” by not backing the proposal.

Senator JD Vance said Tusk should “show more respect” for the US, which he said protects Poland, and that he should contain his “authoritarian tendencies at home”.

Senator Marco Rubio, who in 2016 competed against Trump in the Republican primaries, advised Tusk to “help” America deal with its migration crisis so resources could be freed up to help Ukraine.

“Dear Prime Minister, can we start sending you the 300,000 migrants who illegally enter America every month? It would really help us deal with the invasion of our country and go a long way to helping pass the aid bill you want us to approve,” Rubio said.

On February 7, the US Senate failed to agree on a package of aid worth $118 billion (€109.5 billion) for the US border, Ukraine and Israel.

That came after Republican Senators got behind former US president Donald Trump’s appeal to block the measure as the presumptive presidential Republican nominee felt it was “inadequate” to effectively deal with the US Southern-border situation.

Tusk took to X on February 8 after Republican politicians failed to back the package of US aid for Ukraine, stating: “Dear Republican Senators of America. Ronald Reagan, who helped millions of us to win back our freedom and independence, must be turning in his grave today. Shame on you.”

Republican Senator JD Vance answered Tusk on the same social media platform accusing him of “authoritarianism’ at home and of showing the US a “lack of respect”.

“The new leader of Poland is arresting political opponents and owes his country’s security to the generosity of mine,” Vance said.

“He might consider showing some appreciation, or at least toning down his own authoritarian impulses.”

Vance was apparently alluding to the fact that, since taking office in mid-December, Tusk’s Government has put two opposition’s MPs in prison – since freed – despite them having been pardoned by the Polish President.

In addition, it has taken over public media and the national prosecution service in a way many legal experts and the opposition allege was illegal.

Rubio expanded on his post on X and told Poland’s State press agency PAP that his message to Poland was that “if it had been the victim of an invasion of 8 million illegal migrants they would prefer to deal with that rather than with Ukraine”.

He added: “Aid to Ukraine is needed but it must first be delivered at home” and the US would not be able to help its allies if it is forced to spend money of “millions’ of illegal migrants.

Elbridge Colby, a former official with the US Defence department during Trump’s spell in office as president also criticised Tusk on X: “Shame on you! You’re terrible people!,” he wrote.

“Could you please risk nuclear war to help defend us?” Does that work?”

He said that “as America faces deep strategic, economic, and immigration problems, many Americans are wondering whether staying engaged abroad is worth it”.

“I argue it is, albeit more selectively and shifting to a partnership rather than dependency model” but, he added, the Tusk comments “undermined that”.

He added that he felt Tusk’s tweet was bound to irritate much of the US public as it sounded like “here we have the leader of a country that values NATO more than any and is directly threatened by Russia.

“Such moralistic haranguing seems almost designed to alienate Americans.”

Colby said he believed that outlook was incorrect: “Poland is a model in shifting to a more self-reliant approach to its security given its rising defence spending.”

The leader of Poland’s Conservative (PiS) parliamentary caucus Mariusz Błaszczak, interviewed on commercial TV station Polsat, also criticised Tusk for his attack on the Republicans, calling it a “serious political error, a crime”.

“What if the Republicans now win?,” he posited.

The previous PiS government and the current President Andrzej Duda have in the past been criticised for being “too closely tied” to the Trump administration.

As part of such, more US troops stationed in Poland and deals secured for liquid-gas imports, plus involvement in the construction of Poland’s first nuclear power station, are cited.

In addition, American support for the Three Seas Initiative – a north-south EU axis initiative for countries that lie between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas, is often pointed to.

It had been feared by many in Europe and elsewhere that relations between Poland and America would deteriorate under the administration of US President Joe Biden but the two countries have seemingly grown closer generally.

That has mainly been as a result of the war in Ukraine, with Poland becoming the hub for both military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and a major purchaser of American military equipment such as Abrams tanks, Blackhawk helicopters and Patriot air-defence systems.

Tusk’s outburst on X and his foreign minister Radosław Sikorski’s endorsement of plans for joint European Union defence initiatives seem to suggest that Poland will find it difficult to work with any new Trump administration should he win the next US presidential election.

In that case it will be pretty much forced to put all its eggs in one, European, defence basket.