Donald Trump is doing everything but putting a bow on Ukraine to prepare it for Putin

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Vox / YouTube Trump and Putin A surreal moment...
Vox / YouTube

On Wednesday evening, the story was that Donald Trump was surprising everyone by his “slow-walking” of defense funds for Ukraine. That changed on Thursday morning. Because the story now is that Trump is likely to block funding for the U.S. ally entirely in his effort to serve up the former Soviet republic to Vladimir Putin on a silver platter. Meanwhile, John Bolton has identified the biggest threat to Ukraine—a nation where Russian troops are occupying one region and conducting active warfare in others—as Chinese economic aggression.

And all of this is happening as Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is leaning on Ukrainian officials in an effort to generate a fake scandal for Joe Biden.

CNN reports that Trump is “heavily considering” completely blocking $250 million worth of military assistance to Ukraine, which “would further ingratiate him to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Considering the staggering need for this assistance in Ukraine, Trump’s failure to follow through is a clear signal to U.S. allies that … Trump doesn’t have allies. He has “personal relationships.” Specifically, he has personal relationships with people who funneled millions into a military program to interfere in the U.S. election for his benefit, and who are still keeping a square in Moscow warm for his inevitable tower.

To back Trump’s play, Bolton was on Twitter Thursday morning to let it be known that he is absolutely there for Ukraine in the fight against their biggest problem. That problem being “ensuring it is not subject to Chinese economic exploitation.” So, while Trump will not help Ukraine fight against the Russian troops already on its soil, Bolton will assist it in the fine art of conducting a trade war— because that’s gone so well for everyone so far.

Not only is all of this undoubtedly calling for fresh round of vodka-flavored champagne (or champagne-flavored vodka) at the Kremlin, but it’s also coming as Rudy Giuliani has renewed his efforts to arm-twist Ukrainian officials into signing on to a conspiracy theory involving Joe Biden. This comes after the new president of Ukraine told Giuliani to take a hike, and the prosecutor who got a personal call from Trump admitted that he had made everything up.

And if that’s not enough corruption for one story … it’s not all.

Giuliani has made it absolutely clear that if any Ukrainian officials are willing to come forward to make any kind of allegation against Biden, Donald Trump will be very grateful. And that not coming up with at least an announcement that Biden is “under investigation” in a way that Trump could use in the upcoming election would be bad. Bad as in it would have a significant impact on Trump’s willingness to follow through on the assistance that is supposed to be on its way.

Rudy isn’t the only one who has actually been shuttling to Kiev. Bolton is also on the ground there. But in his Wednesday meeting with Ukrainian officials, he seems to have spent exactly zero time discussing the idea that Trump would actually block the funds that were supposed to be headed their way.

All of this follows Trump’s recent session at the G-7 in which he didn’t just suggest bringing Putin back into the organization, but also made it clear that he considered the annexation of Crimea a “smart” deal in which Putin put one over on America and Europe. Trump always admires a good real estate deal, and apparently that includes the kind that involves invading tanks and helicopters.

Whether Trump is blocking Ukraine’s military funds because it makes Putin happy, or because it gives Giuliani more leverage to extract fictional claims about Biden, does it matter? It could be payment for 2016. It could be a down payment on 2020. It could get an upgraded lot in downtown Moscow.

What it isn’t doing is securing an allied state against invasion. It’s a clear signal that Trump’s vindictive, selfish egoism is the one and only basis of U.S. policy.

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