On November 8, President Donald Trump announced that he was seriously considering accepting Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend the 2020 Victory Day (May 9) celebrations in Red Square in Moscow. Let’s just imagine for a moment: a U.S. president standing on the podium with Mr. Putin while Russian troops and missiles parade by.
All irony aside: No, Mr. President, this is a seriously bad idea! At a time when Vladimir Putin is still threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty, still lying about the downing of the Malaysian airliner, still refusing to take responsibility for the 13,000 lives lost in his invasion of eastern Ukraine, and still supporting Bashar al-Assad’s mass slaughter of his own Syrian people, the optics and the substance of such a visit would be so perverse that Secretary Mike Pompeo and other top advisers should do everything in their power to persuade the president not to pursue this scheme.
If President Trump really wants to show that he is independent of Russian influence, he should speak out boldly and clearly in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty. The next time he starts one of his campaign talking points with the phrase “Russia, if you’re listening…,” he should condemn Russia’s brutal mistreatment and torture of Ukrainian POWs and Crimean activists. He should also follow the advice of America’s intelligence services and protect our electoral system against Russian interference, taking critical steps to counter the kind of massive cyberwarfare the Russians launched in 2016. And he should insist that his Mr. Putin withdraw all Russian troops and weapons from the Donbas.
That might just reassure American voters that Mr. Trump is really defending America’s national interests and not shamefully currying favor with our No. 1 enemy.
Ulana and Ihor Hryn