Staunton, July 17 – Many Ukrainian
commentators have suggested that the “laconic” way in which Vladimir Putin
referred to the Crimean issue and the failure of Donald Trump to say anything
at all about Ukraine at the joint press conference in Helsinki means that, in the
words of one, “Ukraine was not in the epicenter” of their talks, including
their one-on-one sessions.
Such a conclusion represents a
fundamental misunderstanding of what happened because Trump’s failure to raise
the issue given the certainty that Putin would react badly means that the US
leader has deferred to the Russian one by ignoring Moscow’s greatest current
crime and given Putin a victory he doesn’t deserve and must not be allowed to
By not raising Ukraine in fact,
Trump in fact made it clear that he personally at least wants to overlook
Russian aggression there in the name of some grand bargain elsewhere. Putin
could not be more pleased because that means Trump implicitly raised Ukraine by
not talking about it.
After Neville Chamberlain made his
concessions to Hitler at Munich, Winston Churchill observed in the House of Commons
that he had to mention the most horrible thing first. England, he said, “had
suffered a defeat without a war” by failing to oppose the Nazi dictator and believing
that deals with him were possible.
That observation can now be updated
for the United States and the world. At Helsinki, the US and Ukraine “suffered
a defeat without a word” because Trump’s failure to mention Ukraine is a defeat
for the West and a victory for Putin.One can only hope that this time around too, the initial victory of the
aggressor will lead to his ultimate defeat.