A talk to remember
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.