Ukraine is the first casualty of Trump's carelessness, but not the last - The Guardian

Ukraine is the first casualty of Trump's carelessness, but not the last - The Guardian

That the summit of U.S. and Russian Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was a diplomatic disaster for the United States is indisputable, but the biggest immediate loser may be Ukraine - a country the western media has pretty much abandoned, even as it continues to have its soldiers die in a near-frozen, tragically pointless conflict with Russia and Russian-backed forces in the east of the country.

Natalia Antonova, a Ukrainian-American journalist and playwright based in New York, wrote this in an article for The Guardian.

According to the journalist, unlike most Americans, Ukrainians are used to blatant political betrayal - it's what they've dealt with over and over again as a nation.

"Upon seeing the shocked reactions to the summit, all I wanted to tell my fellow Americans was something that would have been obvious to most Ukrainians: President Trump cares more about his personal brand and reputation as a 'deal maker' than about the national security and standing of his own nation. For the majority of Americans, this is a disgusting and disappointing revelation. For the majority of Ukrainians, it's just politics," she writes.

According to Antonova, the Trump administration has been inconsistent in its dealings with Russia from the start, and accusations that Russia meddled in the election that ultimately brought Trump to power play a huge role in that.

The journalist thinks Trump did not expect to win in 2016, and is now afraid to appear illegitimate.

"This is why we have Putin calmly telling his state media that he and Trump discussed how better to regulate the conflict in Ukraine. Putin wouldn't reveal as much unless he was fairly confident that whatever was said would be beneficial to Russia in the long term. Because Trump wants to play nice, at least for the time being," Antonova wrote.

At the same time, she says it would be wise to remember that Trump is hugely inconsistent on most matters, let alone foreign policy. That's one of the reasons why Putin is both optimistic and yet reserved on Trump. While Putin in particular has been in power for so long that his instincts are getting blunted, a sudden reversal by Trump with regard to Russian election meddling was bound to be on the cards all along and Putin, by now, is likely to have seen it coming.

The Ukrainian government, for all its blunders, understands this too. This is why there has been no loud reaction from Kyiv after the Helsinki meeting, she said.

"On the one hand, Ukraine is simply a hostage to the greater game, or, more appropriately, the greater chaos, that is happening on the world stage. On the other hand, Trump's desire to be thought of as political maverick, not to mention his obvious craving for adulation, means that Ukraine could very well briefly benefit when the US president decides that he needs to, for example, appear more heroic, or whenever a falling-out with Putin takes place," the journalist writes.

According to her, the damage Trump is inflicting upon American institutions and America's global standing will be hard to undo - and is likely to take many ugly forms before the end. The aftershocks will be felt in the United States but also far beyond - the trouble with Ukraine could very well be the beginning.


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