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Ukraine: why do Trump and Orbán seek negotiations?

A block of flats in Borodianka near Kiev, destroyed in early 2022 by Russian forces (Source: Pexels.com)

Overlooking the opinions of Trump and Orbán would be a sign of dangerous recklessness.

Pawel Lisicki

According to the prevailing version in Poland, Russia’s current war with Ukraine can end in only one way – the defeat of the aggressor. The outcome is a foregone conclusion, because moral evil – that is, the aggression of one country against another – must be condemned. This must happen all the more so because in this case, historical justice has allied itself with the force represented by none other than the United States. The American people cannot lose, Joe Biden cannot back down. The question of the future has been decided: one way or another, Moscow will run away with its tail between its legs, and new and different centers will rise on the ruins of its former empire. The scourge of Polish history – the fact that we are located between Germany and Russia – will disappear. Russia, if it survives, will be pushed somewhere far to the east, where it will vegetate as a vassal of China or perhaps some other power. It is in Poland’s interest to make sure that the war ends with Russia’s unilateral defeat – no matter the cost. Therefore, there is no room for nuance. All that matters is total victory. Admittedly, it is not clear what exactly Moscow’s defeat would consist of – this will already be taken care of by the Americans. Therefore, we should simply support Washington with all our might.

What is most peculiar about this vision is that its proponents treat America as a monolith. They even suppress and reject those voices in the States that contest Biden’s policies, even though there are more and more of them and people sympathetic to Poland are speaking out. This is exactly what happened with Donald Trump’s recent speech. He stated that, “Ukraine and Russia would not be fighting each other” if he were still president. He added that the Russian aggression occurred due to Washington’s mistakes. Earlier, in another interview, he said he was ready to head a peacekeeping mission, because, according to him, we are on the brink of World War III.

These statements are dismissed in our country with a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders or, no less often, loudly ridiculed. One of the largest Polish news outlets proclaimed that “Trump has gone insane”, another that “Trump is shocking”. This is the vox populi. And yet the thesis that political responsibility for the invasion (not to be confused with moral guilt) is shared by Americans is not perceived as a sign of insanity or “Russian propaganda” in the States. Trump is expressing the views of a growing number of American voters who simply don’t understand what Biden is all about. They see the escalating economic and human costs of war by leaps and bounds. They also see the risk of escalation, including nuclear, growing by the month. The change in sentiment was demonstrated by the example of another US politician, former US presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, who has just left the Democratic party. “I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic party that is under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers who are driven by cowardly wokeness, who divide us by racializing every issue and stoking anti-white racism, actively working to undermine our God-given freedoms enshrined in our Constitution,” she announced. According to her, the American left is “dragging us ever closer to nuclear war”.

In Poland, however, the dogma is that war serves us, there are no greater risks associated with it, no reasons to worry either, and the collapse of the Eastern barbarians (as politicians and columnists on the right label Putin’s regime) looms in the distance. So what is there to worry about? In the same way, no one in Poland is worried about the words of Viktor Orbán. It is no coincidence that he was the one who reacted positively to the former US president’s declarations. He asked where Trump was in world politics, and announced that he could be the one to end the war in Ukraine.

So, despite the fact that the need to negotiate with Moscow and the risk of catastrophe are mentioned by the former U.S. president – considered to be a hero and great friend in Poland during his tenure in office – and the current prime minister of Hungary – our main ally in clashes with the EU for the past seven years – in Warsaw no one wants to listen to them. Their concerns are treated as swarms. Could it be that they are so wrong? Or, conversely, are Trump and Orbán right: Washington’s current policy is a road to nowhere? It is impossible to break the Russians with sanctions, massive arms supplies, and a financial IV drip. Rather, the result could be a collapse of the global economy and an escalation of the war – both of which Poland will suffer dramatically. In the face of all this, overlooking the opinions of Trump and Orbán would be a sign of dangerous recklessness.

This article was published in October 2022 in Do Rzeczy magazine.