The White House has announced that President Donald Trump expects the Russian government to begin de-escalating the conflict in Ukraine and return Crimea. These are just the first signals of exactly what the United States’ position might be in negotiations with Russia on Ukraine and other regional matters.
For Ukraine, this announcement is certainly a positive development. Still, one shouldn’t take these words as America’s final negotiating position. For the moment, this is just the outline of the basic position the United States will take in negotiations on issues involving Ukraine. This position could either change or be strengthened over the course of negotiations. That’s why Kiev must pay careful attention to these discussions, follow them closely and try to participate in them.
The White House announcement is a positive signal because it testifies to the fact that the United States’ basic position is favorable toward Ukraine. Now Kiev must make use of all available channels of communication between itself and the White House to present the White House with as many materials, facts, and arguments as possible in order to keep the U.S. from changing its mind.
After all, there is a significant chance the U.S. position will change during negotiations with the Russians. In fact, the Russians have their own reasons why Crimea should remain theirs. Those arguments are ready to be presented to the Americans. We need to present our own arguments as well.
I repeat: If the heads of state of Ukraine and the U.S. don’t communicate in the near future, then the White House position could change. We don’t need to fear this. Instead, we must continue working to ensure that our arguments about why Crimea must return to Ukraine are presented and supported by facts. We must work to push the U.S. in our favor. For now, that was just a signal from President Trump. At the moment, we should view him with optimism, but we shouldn’t relax and think that everything will turn out as we need it to.
There is danger here too. The Americans have said they are willing to renew dialogue with Russia. This creates risk for Ukraine, since the Americans might eventually side with Russia’s arguments instead of our own. That would alter at the highest level of international relations the formula currently stated by the White House – that Russia should return Crimea to Ukraine.
So, now the general lines are drawn for the sides to start their dialogue on the Ukraine issue. Whether the lines will remain the same in the future will depend especially on Kiev.