Maxim Eristavi writes: The citizens of Ukraine have never had any illusions about the international community’s willingness to take their side in their bloody conflict with Russia. Ukrainians collectively roll their eyes whenever one of their well-meaning friends abroad expresses “grave concern” about Moscow’s aggression, because those fine-sounding words are so rarely followed by concrete actions.
But at least they knew they could count on the Americans. Ukraine and the United States have enjoyed friendly relations for a good 25 years now. And over for the past two years — ever since Moscow seized and occupied the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and then launched its invasion of the country’s eastern territories shortly thereafter — Ukrainians always saw Washington as their most important diplomatic ally. That was especially true when it came to maintaining and imposing sanctions aimed at holding the Russian military in check.
Now that long-standing alliance appears to be over. On Jan. 28, President Trump spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The conversation, by all accounts, was marked by an air of friendship and conciliation. In the hours that followed, the fighting in eastern Ukraine suddenly spiked. The number of explosions tracked by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) skyrocketed from 420 on Jan. 26 to 10,330 on Jan. 31, the sharpest increase ever recorded by the observers. Targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure have left potentially hundreds of thousands of people in the region without water even as they face temperatures well below freezing. Ukraine now confronts a major humanitarian crisis, as thousands of civilians in the government-controlled town of Avdiivka huddle in the dark and cold under intense shelling by combined Russian and separatist forces.
This appalling situation prompted a public outcry from several countries. But as the fighting escalated, many Ukrainians were desperately waiting for a strong statement of support from their biggest ally, the United States. It never came — at least not in the form they were hoping for. [Continue reading…]