If the US does arm Ukraine, would that mean Trump has ceded control of Russia policy to the ‘grown-ups’? This is a group within the administration which is said to include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defence Secretary James Mattis, and a foreign policy establishment that believes Russian ‘active measures’ have been deployed across a broad front from Ukraine to the US presidential election. As the US commander in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti, said recently: ‘Russia seeks to undermine this international system and discredit those in the West who have created it.’
This is not at all what Trump says he believes. Yet American diplomats understand that when the President met Vladimir Putin privately at the G20 summit, he insisted Ukrainian territory had to be restored. The problem of Ukraine was an obstacle to US relations with Russia, Trump supposedly said. This brings to mind the conspiracy theory about US air-strikes against the Syrian government. That largely symbolic act was followed by US withdrawal of military support for the rebels fighting Moscow’s ally, President Assad. What if Trump is talking tough now so as to make concessions later?