“For every tricky problem, there is a simple, appealing and wrong solution.” This phrase by policy strategist Yevhen Hlibovytsky describes the typical Ukrainian reaction to Donald Trump’s promise “to end this war in 24 hours”. It’s clear that even a politician as unconventional as Trump cannot stop a strong and determined aggressor like Russia overnight.
A quick solution can be provided only by negotiations in which Ukraine accepts significant territorial losses, as the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently stated. This not just dooms three million Ukrainians living in occupied territories to prolonged persecution, but also doesn’t prevent this war from flaring up again in a couple of years, as it is unlikely Putin’s objective to subjugate Ukraine will change.
This is obvious to anyone ankle-deep in the origins of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Once people realise how significant and symbolic this conflict is, effort and a call to action are necessary. An easy way to avoid this? Believe Trump.
Even if Trump only says this in his election campaign, the effects of such rhetoric are already visible. The Republican party can’t ignore Trump’s simple “solution”, which appeals to many US voters, and hardens its position against allocating money for military help for Ukraine. The crucial decision of giving Ukraine $61 bn is getting postponed for the third month already. Without Trump, there would probably be no such crisis.
Under Trump, it’s clear that US help to Ukraine will hardly be more generous than it has been. This has awakened Ukrainian arms factories, which are now scaling up production, making the Ukraine war effort more sustainable. Also, this stirs the EU awake. Now it is making its commitments to Ukraine more substantial, realising the US may not help. This is a viable strategy for the future. However, 2024 promises to be harder than it has to be.