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Thu Dec 12, 2019, 12:02 PM

Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us 'a Terrible Signal' [View all]

Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us ‘a Terrible Signal’
Kyiv officials were hoping for a statement of support from Trump in advance of Ukraine’s big summit with Russia. Instead, the president hosted Putin’s main man.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukrainians-trump-just-sent-us-a-terrible-signal

Ukrainian officials spent last weekend glued to Trump’s Twitter feed.

People working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been in contact with Trump administration officials over the past several weeks discussing the relationship between the two presidents, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Based on those conversations, Ukrainian officials came to expect that President Donald Trump would make a statement of support before Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France for peace talks. A statement might even come via Twitter, they said they were told.

“Through all the signals we got, we firmly believed there would be a statement,” a senior Zelensky administration official told The Daily Beast.

But as Saturday and Sunday ticked by, there was only silence from the White House. Even as Ukrainian officials have publicly been loath to criticize Trump’s pressure campaign on their country, frustrations with Washington have quietly percolated. And last weekend, they were especially acute.

On Monday, Zelensky and Putin met in Normandy, France for face-to-face negotiations on the war in eastern Ukraine. Russia had seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and has ever since backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were on hand for the talks. Putin and Zelensky agreed to exchange “all known prisoners,” according to The Washington Post. Another round of talks is expected in several months.

Words of support from the United States in the lead-up to the Normandy talks could have given the Ukrainian president more leverage with Putin, according to the Zelensky administration official and two additional people close to his administration. Instead, Trump spent the weekend on Twitter tweeting about Fox News pundits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and CNN. It was a particularly busy weekend of social media for him, with more than 100 tweets and retweets by Politico’s count. But no word on Normandy.

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