Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Donald Trump seemed to feel a special affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin when he was campaigning for a presidential office of his own. Among other things, he shares Mr. Putin's taste for bullying.

But now the bullies who lead two world powers are beginning to bump into each other, and Mr. Putin – the far more experienced political operative – is getting the better of Mr. Trump.

Less than a week after a supposedly friendly phone call between the two at the end of January, the pro-Russian forces in the southeast of Ukraine – the so-called Donetsk People's Republic – tripled their warfare against Ukrainian government forces.

Story continues below advertisement

Globe editorial: In troubled times, Canada should not abandon Ukraine

Related: Ukraine asks Canada, EU allies to keep up Russian front in wake of Trump win

Read more: Freed from Putin's Russia, a Ukrainian pilot puts Poroshenko and his party – 'enemy No. 2' – in her sights

The almost unmistakable inference for the Moscow-backed rebels since Mr. Trump's inauguration is that the coast is clear: that either President Trump doesn't care, or he actually favours the rebels, or he doesn't know what to do next and can't come up with a good tweet about it.

One way or another, the pro-Russian rebels of the Donbass region – or their masters in Moscow – seem to have calculated well. The rebels have now increased their pressure on a Ukrainian port, Mariupol, on the Black Sea, which is vitally important to Ukraine.

Eventually, Mr. Trump will have to wake up and realize he looks weak on this front – surely not the image he wants to project to anyone. He will need a response.

Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for Mr. Trump who just happens to be a political operator in Ukraine, has concocted a bizarre plan for the region. He has proposed that Ukraine lease the Crimean Peninsula – which by any normal legal standard belongs to Ukraine – to Russia for 50 to 100 years, in exchange for a withdrawal of all of Russian military forces from the Donbass, the run-down, smokestack-economy region where the protracted conflict is taking place.

Story continues below advertisement

Of course, Crimea is already under the de facto control of Russia. If the "lease" were actually granted for 50 to 100 years, Russia would never leave again.

Mr. Trump needs to respond in a sensible and forceful manner. It's clear that Mr. Putin has decided to test the American President and see how far he can push. At the moment, it must feel as though he can do whatever he wants, and that is a danger to the whole world.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies