Sunday, November 20, 2016
Will Trump Preserve Ukraine’s Independence & Sovereignty?
Several weeks before the 2016 Presidential Elections that saw Donald Trump achieve an astounding, historic victory over Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, his stalwart advocate, assured Ukrainians and the world that President Trump would support selling lethal weapons to Ukraine.
A simple business decision for the billionaire businessman-turned politician?
Gingrich didn’t allude to that conclusion nor did he state that Trump is a genuine supporter of Ukraine’s independence. In a conversation with Yuriy Panchenko during the 13th annual meeting of Yalta European Strategy (YES) that appeared in the Ukrainian e-magazine European Pravda, the former Speaker of the House, said he and Trump have opposed the ban on selling Ukraine lethal weapons with which it could defend itself against Russian aggression.
“I am sure that the Ukrainian people have the right to defend themselves and their country. Conducting assistive policy towards Ukraine only ‘in words,’ without giving appropriate modern weapons for protection is a defeat for the United States. Trump will make it different.” Gingrich assured.
Trump’s advocate and adviser repeated this view, saying “we can say for sure that President Trump would ‘unlock’ the issue of weapons in favor of Ukraine. Trump can say nice things about Putin, but in the meantime, he will sell Ukraine arms.”
Gingrich concluded his remarks about Ukraine by emphasizing that “Yes, most likely, the weapons would be sold. I think that Ukraine will be asked to delay payments.”
Can Ukrainians, Ukrainian Americans, Russians and the global community really expect the Trump Administration to live up to this line of thinking? Sadly, there is nothing in Trump’s record that says the incoming President will support such a compulsory sale while at the same time his friend in Moscow will pursue global belligerence.
Unfortunately for the global community, American conservatives and neoconservatives, with a few exceptions, as well as Trump supporters, adhere to an “America First” mojo to the exclusion of all other countries. In the interview that I cited previously, Gingrich exactly pointed that “Mr. Trump intends to put the American interest in first place. US interests first, and then – negotiations with other countries. Today US interests are influenced by some confusing international programs.”
This rabid, blind form of isolationism is dangerous for everyone. Focusing on America to that degree will not only turn the US into an impenetrable fortress surrounded by two huge bodies of water, blind and deaf to others, but it can also give rise to global threats like Russia and ISIS. It will abandon Ukraine and the other x-captive nations to the aggressive whims of Russia, whose intentions cannot be overlooked – again.
In Trump’s record there is the Paul Manafort specter, which polluted the traditional pro-captive nations ideology of the Republican Party and indeed all of America. His pro-Russian meddling in the GOP platform during the convention reduced support for Ukraine to drivel.
Throughout the campaign, candidate Trump failed to address adequately his relationship with Russian fuhrer Vladimir Putin, denying in the face of his own contradictory statements that he knew the Russian leader.
Trump must also refute his callous disregard for Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and reassert support for sanctions against Moscow until it withdraws from invaded Ukrainian regions.
Then after winning the elections, Trump began appointing or considering men and women for administration and cabinet posts, satisfying some and upsetting others. National security adviser Michael T. Flynn seems to regard Putin in the same light as does his boss. Mitt Romney, a possible secretary of state choice, and Mike Pompeo, the next CIA director, believe Putin is a tyrant and global threat.
In reality, based on Trump’s intolerable character, all of them will toe the line with Trump or he’ll fire them.
Finally, Trump’s talking points about US-Russia relations point to his total misjudgment about the evil empire. In the aftermath of the let’s makeup telephone call between Putin and Trump last week, the coverage highlighted the unsatisfactory state of relations and their will to normalize them. The Kremlin cheered that the two leaders will strive “to normalize them and bring them to the framework of constructive cooperation. Stressed was, among other things, the importance of the creation of a stable foundation for bilateral relations by developing their trade and market component.”
Yes, US relations with Russia have been strained but not by anything that Washington initiated but because of Moscow’s rampant militarization and uncontrolled imperialism. By building bridges between Moscow and Washington for the sake of friendship and commerce, Trump must accept Russia’s crimes and shake Putin’s blood-stained hands.
Trump’s complete disregard for Russia’s ongoing belligerence demonstrates his naiveté or ambivalence about Russia’s crimes against humanity. As President of the United States – he has removed himself from the moniker of leader of the free world because of his isolationist bent – he cannot continuously deny in the face of irrefutable evidence that Russia violates human rights, murders its opponents, and invades its neighbors.
Ukraine’s fate inside The Beltway will depend on the strongly-worded, supportive congressional resolutions. Senators and congressman are already banding around pro-Ukrainian campaigns that must be conspicuously supported by freedom-loving Americans.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), among others, last week warned against any attempt to revise US-Russia relations under Trump’s presidency.
“With the US presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States. We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America's allies, and attempted to undermine America’s elections,” McCain said in a statement.
Senior Democratic and GOP lawmakers are insisting that Washington respond to Russia’s interference in the US election and actions in Ukraine and Syria, despite Trump’s hope to improve relations.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said last week he was working on what he described as “comprehensive” legislation to respond to Russian actions contrary to U.S. interests in Europe and Syria, as well as cyberattacks blamed on Moscow during the campaign.
“Russia presents a very serious challenge for America. They're not our partner. They're a bully,” Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.
“I therefore ask Trump to take seriously the assessments from our intelligence community and security professionals regarding Russia’s actions. I implore the Trump administration to see Russia for what it is — a global bully and adversary. And I encourage the incoming national security leadership to understand who our real friends and true allies are, and that they count on us to provide leadership against Moscow’s aggression,” Cardin said.
Other lawmakers have also called for action against Russia. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S-SC), one of his party’s senior foreign policy voices, told reporters he wanted Senate hearings on whether Putin interfered in US election. “We can’t sit on the sidelines,” Graham said.
Trump’s unforeseen election to the presidency of the United States has panicked the x-captive nations.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he has “no doubt” that Trump will refuse to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and will cooperate with his country.
When asked about the possibility of “an agreement” with Trump and Putin about recognizing Crimea, Poroshenko responded: “I am absolutely sure that the new president-elect is completely strong enough in an effective cooperation with Ukraine … no doubt.”
Hopefulness without back up.
Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has sought to assuage Ukrainian and Baltic fears about the incoming President’s risky policies, saying: “The Baltics and Ukraine are close friends of the US, and neglecting them will have far-reaching consequences and mark the beginning of the end of the US-led system.”
At the same time European leaders reaffirmed their strong support for continuing sanctions against Russia until it withdraws from occupied Ukrainian territories, sending a hopeful message to the new White House about its convictions.
Lithuania warned that Putin may test NATO in the weeks before Trump is inaugurated as President. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said he was “very afraid” for the Baltics and other regions, as well as the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Back home, President Obama added his point of view about Trump’s policies toward Russia, stating he hoped his successor “is willing to stand up to Russia when they deviate from our values and international norms.”
The next four years do not look good for Ukraine and the other former captive nations. After decades, even centuries of captivity in Russia’s prison of nations and only a few years in freedom, losing them on Trump’s watch will be an astounding, catastrophic stain on the 45th President’s legacy.Freedom loving peoples in the United States and around the world will have to keep a close watch on Trump’s steps – or missteps – in handling Russia’s belligerence and then, if necessary, fight him tooth and nail for changes.