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The West is less willing to fight for Kyiv; the new "Yalta conspiracy" might be real

Author : Witold Jurasz

Polish commentators were frightened by the prospect that Donald Trump would decide to "sell" Ukraine, a buffer zone that separates Poland from Russia
12:01, 23 July 2018

Read the original text at Onet.pl.  

PAP

The media continue to comment on the summit in Helsinki, where Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin. The problem is that we can take information about its results only from the press conference of the two presidents. And if we comment on the odds and reflect on what it means, it is still possible, we can just say that it is definitely early to draw conclusions about the meeting itself.

The leaders of the United States and Russia were undoubtedly talking about Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East, North Korea, and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They touched upon the American charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers suspected of interfering in the US presidential election. Both presidents are tough negotiators, and the key question is: who, in what sphere, and under what circumstances is ready for the concessions.

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From the point of view of Poland, the topics that directly concern it are of its particular interest. Polish commentators were frightened by the prospect that Donald Trump would decide to "sell" Ukraine. These fears can be understood: if Russia regains control over the Ukrainian state, it will decide to move further west, in our direction. For us, it is best that Ukraine becomes, firstly, a buffer zone that separates us from Russia, and secondly, a state, which would make Moscow "break its teeth."

Until now, Warsaw has believed that this would require involving Kyiv into the orbit of the West. If, however, we look at the situation soberly, that is, if we just take into account the real facts (even the fact that President of France Macron met with Putin on the eve of the summit in Finland), unfortunately, we will have to admit that the West shows very little support for such a strategy. There they do not want to fight for Kyiv, so that, most likely, it is not destined to be in the western orbit.

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Poland has no reserve plan, and therefore we draw catastrophic scenarios for the emergence of a new "Yalta conspiracy," as a result of which Trump will sell not only Ukraine but Poland. It seems, however, that such forecasts are not the result of a sober assessment of reality, but rather of a manifestation of hysteria.

It is hard not to notice that although the US president voices some perplexing pro-Russian statements, his own administration has sold the Javelin missile complexes to Ukraine; they are a deadly threat to all modern Russian tanks, and they have not weakened the sanctions against Russia, but only tightened up.

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Western countries, especially the US, send some contradictory signals, so one can draw two opposite conclusions: Washington is ready to "sell" Ukraine or, more likely, the White House (and wider - the West), denoting the borders, however, it is simultaneously demonstrating readiness to dialogue, noting that it agrees to find a compromise with Russia. These contradictory signals can be interpreted as a sign that at the moment the most likely prospect is the "Finlandization" of Ukraine. Thus, fears about the form of the US-Russian agreement seem exaggerated, especially since attentive observers have long realized that there the West has no room for Kyiv.

When the "Three Seas Initiative" summit was held in Warsaw, which was attended by Trump, few people noticed that not only the name has changed (no one was already talking about the "Intermarium " project), but also the format: Ukraine was excluded from it. According to the unofficial information, this was one of the conditions for the arrival of the American president in Poland.

If the scenario outlined above becomes a reality, one can say that Vladimir Putin managed to achieve only half of the goals he set himself. On the one hand, he did not allow Kyiv to get closer to the West, but on the other, he has awakened Ukraine’s anti-Russian sentiments, missing a chance to take it under full control. However, half-hearted success sometimes means very much.

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Moscow is interested in normalizing relations with the West because sanctions are causing real damage to the Russian economy. Equally important is the fact that in this large-scale game of the powers, India has become more flexible participant who can choose which union to join (to unite with the West against China or, conversely, join China against the West), and not Russia. The Kremlin does not have such an opportunity now, so it tries to get as much success as possible, while the lack of alternatives to Russian politics has not become obvious to everyone. Perhaps, what seems to us now a half-success of Putin, is, in fact, a full-fledged success.

Assuming that Donald Trump's actions are not political adventurism, as someone believes, but rather a well-thought-out strategy that serves as a response to the strengthening of China's position means that he is playing a game very reminiscent of the game of the Russian president. At the same time, the American leader also realizes that the state, led by him, would become weaker.

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In the diplomatic world, summits usually “crown” certain political processes. This is due to the fact that they are given such great importance, and that is why after the summit there were so many comments and even references to the "Yalta conspiracy". The problem with Trump is that he not only likes to violate the protocol but also understands diplomacy in his own way. On the eve of the meeting in Helsinki, he gave an interview to CBS and bluntly stated that he did not associate great expectations with this event, considering negotiations with Putin as the beginning of a dialogue, rather than summarizing his results.

In Yalta, the pages of history were turned over and over, and Helsinki, most likely, would become, rather, "second Singapore". A month ago, Trump and Kim Jong-un held a "watershed" meeting, and although politicians declared "a huge success," now, a month later, we see that almost nothing has changed.

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