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Tommy Carcetti

(43,235 posts)
Wed May 15, 2024, 10:34 AM Wednesday

Cross posted from General Discussion: An alternate fiction piece I wrote

AS UKRAINE PLEADS FOR HELP, WASHINGTON REMAINS MOSTLY SILENT

By Tommy Carcetti
May 14, 2024

LVIV—Speaking from inside the well-fortified government headquarters in the provisional capital city of Lviv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once again made a desperate plea today for American assistance as the country struggles to hold off a relentless Russian military onslaught that threatens what remains of the war-torn country.

Zelensky’s urgent request brought to mind similar conversations he had with President Donald Trump five years ago during his administration’s first term, which ultimately lead to the President’s impeachment. Critics of the President have openly speculated the entire incident has significantly jaded President Trump’s approach towards Ukraine in the two and a half years since the full-scale Russian military invasion of the country, a claim that the administration vehemently denies.

Nonetheless, the mood in Washington appears to remain rather cool towards offering any form of aid or assistance towards Ukraine, even though many have argued the United States is morally obligated to intervene pursuant to the terms of the April 2023 Hong Kong Agreement, which it helped negotiate.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday this past week, Secretary of Defense Michael Flynn stated, “Our priorities remain inward and in the interests of the American people first and foremost.” Secretary Flynn cited the continued build-up of American troops along the U.S.-Mexico border as the issue of highest importance, insisting the mobilization is necessary to protect against drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Flynn also pointed to the supplementation of deputized National Guard troops stationed in Chicago, Detroit, Portland and other U.S. cities which the administration continues to maintain is necessary in order to protect against civil unrest.

“The fact is while we as Americans certainly feel for the Ukrainian people, the situation over there remains on the bottom of the totem pole so to speak as opposed to our own national defense interests,” Flynn said.

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, the dynamics of the conflict were radically altered by President Trump’s sudden and unexpected announcement on March 11, 2022 that he was unilaterally withdrawing the United States from all NATO alliance agreements.

The governments of Hungary and Turkey announced shortly thereafter that those countries would be leaving the NATO alliance as well. While both of those countries have officially maintained that they remain neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukrainian government officials have continuously accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of secretly providing assistance to the Russian military.

Meanwhile, NATO remains in a chaotic, fractured state following the loss of its most powerful ally, even as open Russian threats to NATO countries such as Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the Baltic states have dramatically increased.

Following the U.S. withdrawal from NATO, an emboldened Russian military was able to make rapid progress throughout Eastern and Southern Ukraine, displacing nearly half of the country’s entire population in the process.

In March 2023, President Trump offered his own personal services as a neutral broker to end the conflict. While Russian President Putin immediately responded to the offer, the Ukrainians were far more hesitant to accept any assistance. Only after the fall of Kharkiv—Ukraine’s second largest city—to Russian control did Ukrainian President Zelensky ultimately agree to peace talks.

Accepting the Chinese government’s offer of Hong Kong as the venue for negotiations, the four-day talks in April 2023 were described as extremely tense and contentious. Ultimately, however, it was President Trump who announced a resolution: Ukraine would effectively cede control of its Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa regions to Russia, as well as surrendering any claim to the Crimean Peninsula which Russia had illegally annexed in 2014. The result would leave Ukraine effectively landlocked and without access to the Black Sea.

In exchange, Russian President Putin agreed he would cease any further incursion into Ukrainian territory absent “any substantive provocation” by Ukrainian forces. As a guaranteeing measure, President Trump announced that should either country violate the terms of the agreement, the United States would “appropriately intervene” with “proper means of assistance, including military” to the non-breaching party.

The truce would not last long. Within three weeks of the agreement, Moscow had accused the Ukrainian military of breaching its terms, a claim which the Ukrainian government vehemently denied. By June 2023, Russia had resumed full scale military operations, and on August 10, 2023, the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv effectively fell to Russian control, sending President Zelensky and members of the Ukrainian government fleeing to the far west of the country for their own personal safety.

Since the fall of Kyiv, Ukrainian forces have retreated to beyond the Teteriv and Pivdennyi Buh River basins, leaving Ukraine with roughly a quarter of its original pre-war territory remaining under its control. The cities of Zhyotmyr and Vinnytsia—now representing the front lines of the conflict—stand uninhabitable, having been nearly destroyed beyond all recognition. After gaining the status of Ukraine’s new capital, Lviv has endured constant round after round of missile and drove attacks. Over 20 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes since the start of the war, and with the remaining portion of the country unable to support the refugees, a spillover into Ukraine’s neighbors has created a growing humanitarian crisis.

For those Ukrainians left behind in territory now controlled by Russia the story remains far less clear, although reports that have emerged from those areas have painted an extremely grim picture filled with harrowing stories of human rights abuses. A civilian death toll has been equally difficult to nail down, although the consensus is that the figure extends well into the hundreds of thousands.

But despite Ukraine’s increasingly tenuous grip on its own rapidly shrinking territory, as well as the ever-growing threat posed by Russia to Ukraine’s neighbors, the Trump administration has exhibited little to no interest in coming to the side of either Ukraine or any of America’s former NATO allies.

After meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow last month, Secretary of State Paul Manafort reported that there was “simply an insufficient basis” to conclude that Russia’s claim of Ukrainian provocation after the Hong Kong Agreement was unjustified or unreasonable.

Meanwhile, in a scenario that would have certainly invoked an Article 5 response back when the U.S. was a member of NATO, the Polish government expressed its extreme frustration that the Trump administration had offered no comment or condemnation when the border town of Przemysl was struck last week by a large barrage of Russian missiles, killing five civilians and damaging numerous structures in the center of town; the Kremlin has responded by simply claiming the strike was “inadvertent” but has not otherwise apologized for the incident.

“There appears to be little willpower within the Trump administration to want to address anything relating to matters overseas, let alone Ukraine,” noted John Kerry, former Secretary of State under President Obama. “The stock market has just climbed back over 20,000 points, unemployment is back in single digit territory and there are signs that inflation may soon be slowing down. I just don’t think I see them doing anything to make waves or have the public suddenly worrying about any sort of foreign engagement.”

Nor has the ongoing situation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe barely registered at all on Congress’s radar; much of the most recent session has been spent attempting to rally support amongst the state legislatures to speedily ratify the 28th Amendment that was passed by the Republican Congressional supermajority last year. If ratified by the states, the Amendment would immediately and retroactively repeal the 22nd Amendment limiting a President to two terms in office and pave the way for President Trump to be officially nominated this summer for a third consecutive term in office.

But in Ukraine, constitutional machinations in the United States are the furthest thing from people’s minds as the country prepares to make what might be its last stand as a free and independent nation. While many hope the more hilly and mountainous terrain of Western Ukraine might provide local forces with more of a geographic advantage against Russian forces than the open terrain in the east of the country, the fact remains that without sufficient weaponry in the hands of its military, such an advantage would likely be meaningless.

And barring a sudden and unexpected about face from the Trump administration in its policy position, it appears unlikely that the United States will answer the Ukrainian government’s increasingly desperate calls to intervene in its fight against Russia.

“The bottom line is that Ukraine is dealing with the Trump administration, and President Trump has for whatever reason chosen to give Ukraine the cold shoulder thus far,” Secretary Kerry remarked. “While I’m sure we all might want to speculate how a President Hillary Clinton or a President Joe Biden might have handled the situation with Ukraine and Russia, the fact of the matter is that we’re dealing with a President Donald Trump here, and nothing in the world right now can change that.”

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NOTE TO DU: As hopefully you were able to quickly discern from the content of the article--if not the byline itself--this is not an actual news article, but rather my own personal work of alternate historical fiction depicting how the situation in Ukraine might be currently unfolding had Donald Trump somehow been elected to a second term in office.

Over the past few years, I've taken to writing as both a hobby and a therapeutic exercise. I actually completed an entire novel, which eventually one day I might try to shop for publication. I also recently wrote a personal essay piece to which I actively am soliciting various journals.

And as some of you here at DU might know, I'll occasionally curse this website with my "BREAKING NEWS" bit, that increasingly hit-or-miss satirical news articles that inevitably end up with those two goofy looking news anchors declaring "Details at eleven." The purpose of those pieces (other than a diversion of my own time) is just to poke fun and throw out as absurd and non-sensical of a story as I can possibly put forward while maintaining just the slightest bit of plausibility in a truly fucked-up world.

This, however, was not intended to be a fun, satirical piece like those are.

Rather, this was intended to show the real world consequences of what electing a person like Donald Trump to office might have on world events, based on the four year track record of what we already know those devastating consequences to be. And it serves as a warning for this November of the real danger that might face us if we are forced to endure even just a day more of that horror show in office.

And on a more personal level, while writing this did allow me to flex some creative muscles, it was nonetheless something that was also rather difficult emotionally for me to put together. Given that I have relatives currently living in Ukraine--and more specifically in Western Ukraine, which so far has been spared the worst of the war's violence--the uncertain future in Ukraine and that part of the world weighs heavily on me for their sake.

That being said, please feel free to take this however you wish to take it.

And keep all of this in mind come November.

Thanks,

TC

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