Dreading November

A little help here. More help. A little more help. And posthaste.

That, in a nutshell, was Volodymyr Zelensky’s message to NATO this week.

Regaling an audience at the Reagan Institute in Washington, Zelensky implored Kyiv’s allies to get moving. “It’s time to make decisions,” he said, speaking just 48 hours after a Russian missile barrage killed dozens in Ukraine and damaged the nation’s largest pediatric hospital.

The world, and particularly America, shouldn’t “wait for November,” he went on. “Or any other month.”

Needless to say, Zelensky didn’t just pick November out of a hat. He was referring to the US election, which Donald Trump’s at least as likely to win as lose. Zelensky surely isn’t enamored with the idea of asking Trump for money and weapons. The last time he asked, Trump tried to rope him into investigating Biden.

Trump could scarcely make his intentions any clearer on Ukraine and NATO. He’s said, among other things, that he’d end the war before he’s even inaugurated (without saying how) and that he’d let Russia invade any NATO country that doesn’t spend enough on defense.

Trump’s view on the war seems consistent with the fatalistic assessment that Ukraine can’t win, and would thereby be wise to cede the territory Russia currently occupies in exchange for some kind of binding agreement that Putin won’t try to seize the rest of the country. Before the Russians break through and take even more territory.

Last week, in an interview with Bloomberg, Zelensky wondered aloud if Trump might be so kind as to detail his plans for peace. “If Trump knows how to finish this war, he should tell us,” Zelensky said, adding that Kyiv wants to know if the country’s independence is at risk.

Of course, Zelensky knows the answer(s) to his question(s). Trump intends to broker a deal that carves up Ukraine and hands the Donbas to the Kremlin. Crimea would almost surely be recognized as part of Russia by a Trump administration, as difficult as it is to picture the US State Department making such a flagrantly humiliating concession.

Although Biden was successful in marshaling broad-based support for Ukraine early in the war, some of Trump’s acolytes on the Hill eventually pushed back, resulting in a long delay on the delivery of  badly-needed assistance, giving Putin the upper-hand. Mike Johnson, who met with Zelensky on Wednesday, finally maneuvered the $60 billion aid package through the House in April, but by then the damage was done. Russia had the initiative. 111 Republicans, including all the usual suspects — Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene and the rest — voted against the bill, presaging many an uphill battle ahead even if Democrats manage to keep the White House.

In February, Mitch McConnell — for whom nobody will shed any tears — attributed a decision to step down as Senate Republican leader later this year in part to the GOP’s changing views on America’s role in the world. “I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential,” he said, an oblique reference to the fraught debate in the House over Ukraine.

Suffice to say the writing’s on the wall: If Trump’s reelected, Ukraine will almost surely be compelled to give up some of its territory to Putin. Zelensky knows it. “I hope that if [Americans] vote for President Trump — I hope his policy with Ukraine will not change,” Zelensky told Fox this week.

The US, Germany, Romania, the Netherlands and Italy have all committed to providing Ukraine with more air defense systems, and on Wednesday, Keir Starmer suggested Ukraine will still be able to utilize British missiles to hit military targets across the border as long as it’s for “defensive” purposes. Biden in May changed the rules of engagement to permit Kyiv to use US weapons in a similar fashion.

None of that will matter if Trump ends up back in the Oval Office. “Everyone’s waiting on November, including Putin,” Zelensky said Tuesday, at the NATO event.

During the same July 3 interview with Bloomberg, Zelensky exhorted Trump to be more forthcoming about his intentions. “We want to understand whether in November we will have US support,” he said. “Or whether we will be alone.”


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4 thoughts on “Dreading November

  1. I really feel for Ukraine and Zelensky, time is running out on them and he knows it, Putin’s plan of waiting until the US election is starting to look like a checkmate move. The “Democratic” West lost a golden opportunity to provide real support to Ukraine and call Putin’s bluff while we had a chance, the US will likely pay dearly for this blunder, but for Ukraine the cost will be existential.

  2. If Trump is elected and cedes Crimea to Putin, Odessa will be next, followed by the whole Black Sea litoral to Transnistria (the breakaway, Russia-aligned province of Moldova), effectively turning what’s left of Ukraine into a landlocked state with no Black Sea ports for its huge grain harvests. End of story for the Ukrainian people.

  3. I am seeing lots of negative posts in comments on the web about Biden, much like I saw about Hillary in 2016. I can’t help but think these are Russian Disinformation posts posting in comment sections around the internet. Sort of like an attack by ants.

  4. Without US help, I hope the EU/Germany finally wakes up and we help the Ukrainian thoroughly defeat the Russian invasion.

    TBH, recent assessments of the situation on the ground are pretty favorable to Ukraine. Russia expanded a lot of material and men when Ukraine was at its weakest (thanks to US Congress wannabe traitors) and didn’t get much for its efforts, not to mention that the fear of Russian advances convince the US, the UK etc. to loosen the RoE for Ukraine and allow it to attack Russian territory with western weapons.

    The end result seems a strategic loss for Putin, even if he got 100 km2 out of all that.

    Ukraine can really bleed and eventually destroy the Russian army by itself. But it does need the weapons to do it.

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