A talk to re­mem­ber

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

No one ex­pected it to go well. Af­ter all, weeks be­fore his July 16 meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ap­par­ently told G7 lead­ers that Crimea is a part of Rus­sia be­cause ev­ery­one "speaks Rus­sian there."

He later held firm on the sen­ti­ment, telling re­porters “We’ll have to see,” — see, that is, if Rus­sia has the right to uni­lat­er­ally re­draw the bound­aries of its sovereign neigh­bors with guns and a fake ref­er­en­dum.

But while Ukraini­ans can breathe a col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief that Trump did not — at least, as far as we know — give Putin his bless­ings for the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea, their pri­vate meet­ing was alarm­ing, to say the least. And, de­spite the head­lines, the worst part of it may not ac­tu­ally be Trump’s ly­ing and back­track­ing on Rus­sian elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence, or his pub­lic be­trayal of the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

We fear that the worst part hap­pened when they were alone fore more than two hours, 30 min­utes longer than sched­uled.

What hap­pened? A deal in south­ern Syria? Elec­tions? Did Trump throw Ukraine un­der the bus? Putin on state TV said Trump had made him a "very in­ter­est­ing of­fer" on Ukraine. He im­plied they’d brain­stormed ways to get around sanc­tions, phras­ing it as "in­creas­ing eco­nomic ties" in the "cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment." Big talk? Or the an­tic­i­pa­tion of ut­ter im­punity as Rus­sia makes war on its neigh­bors?

We need an­swers. We also need to be on guard that af­ter this re­lent­less cy­cle of threats and lies, Ukraine will not be the vic­tim.

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