Ukrainians already have paid a high price for Russian occupation in Donbass. More than 14,000 have died in the conflict. The region’s economy has never recovered. To cash a monthly check, elderly pensioners take buses to cities outside the zone, as no banks have reopened since 2014. Authorities have outlawed non-Orthodox religious groups, forcibly closing churches, seizing property, and making many religious activities illegal. “You cannot serve a soup kitchen. You cannot spread or receive humanitarian aid. There is no place to complain. There is no one to stand for them,” said Mission Eurasia President Sergey Rakhuba.
Ukraine as political theater isn’t going away. Despite the vote against Trump’s removal, at least 17 Republican senators say the president committed “an improper-but-not-impeachable offense,” according to a morning-after survey by The Dispatch. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who made a decided move against impeachment, was clear in his statement to call Trump’s actions “inappropriate.” Those views are important because they stand at odds with what Trump and his legal defense team claim. A conclusive impeachment vote hasn’t resolved those differences.
Further revelations are likely, including from former national security adviser John Bolton, whose book covering Trump foreign policy is due out mid-March. Bolton, while controversial, has a reputation as a straight shooter. Critics won’t easily be able to dismiss his account. Alexander and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who voted for one count of impeachment, are former governors with long records in public life. Voters weary of Democrats’ grandstanding also tire of Trump treating serious critics with public contempt. Demeaning the office one holds becomes self-defeating.
Playing with foreign policy, too, can cost lives. Ask the Ukrainians in Donbass.