Seeing the Ukraine mess through the lens of Trump’s alleged loyalty to Moscow also doesn’t make sense. Trump has a dim view of Ukraine, although largely because he believes Ukrainians worked against him in 2016. Yet the bottom line is that Trump’s Ukraine policy is more hawkish than President Barack Obama’s.
Trump’s predecessor steadfastly refused to give lethal aid to Ukraine to defend itself from a Russian invasion. Trump has provided such aid. His supposed offense is delaying, for a matter of months, that aid before coughing it up. Why would Putin consider this approach preferable to Obama’s, which denied Ukraine this help, not provisionally, not temporarily, but firmly as a matter of principle?
Another count against Trump is that his pullback from northeastern Syria boosts Russian influence in the country, although the Russians arrived in Syria in force during Obama’s “red line” fiasco. If Trump is acting like an agent for Moscow, so did Obama, beginning with his then-Secretary of State Clinton offering her Russian counterpart that misbegotten “reset” button.