Three days in, the amount of information available on the whistleblower report filed to the acting director of national intelligence remains painfully thin. Unlike, apparently everyone at the White House, neither Congress nor the public has been given any access to the report. Sources have emerged to indicate that it involves a phone call, and that it actually covers a series of actions, and that it’s connected to Ukraine. The obvious answer is that this is connected to the long-running scheme by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani to convince someone in Ukraine to say there is an investigation of Joe Biden underway, just so they can tarnish Biden’s image and push Giuliani’s ridiculous conspiracy theory that Biden’s son took “billions” in exchange for something no one has been able to name.
But there is another possibility. Ukraine was a focus of attention in the 2016 Republican Party platform fight not because of anything having to do with Biden, but having to do with its proximity to Trump’s friend, Vladimir Putin. With Russia having already annexed Crimea, and Russian forces not even continuing the pretense of being “rebels” in Ukraine’s eastern regions, there was concern that the United States show commitment to arming and protecting Ukraine from further incursions.
Donald Trump’s campaign team weakened that commitment. And Trump himself placed a completely unnecessary hold on a military aid package needed in the endless effort to hold Russian forces at bay. So perhaps it’s not surprising that there has been speculation that the focus of Trump’s “promise” wasn’t Biden, but an area called Donbass.
Donbass is the easternmost region of Ukraine, wedged in with Russian territory on three sides. It’s the region where much of the fighting between Ukranian forces and Russia’s mock-rebels has taken place. And, as of two days ago, it’s an area where Ukranian forces are being withdrawn. The minister of defense has said that disengagement of forces in Donbas is “not a retreat,” but it certainly looks like a retreat. And as Ukranian forces are leaving, Russian forces are pouring into the region. In addition to reports of troops at tanks massing at the border, Russia is sending in forces disguised as humanitarian convoys.
This may be completely disconnected from anything Trump said in his phone call. It’s hard to imagine even Donald Trump getting on the horn to the president of Ukraine and saying “Hey, walk away from Donbass if you ever want to see your precious aid package delivered.” But whether it’s connected to Trump or not, it certainly shows that Ukraine has much more important things to deal with than Giuliani’s schemes to sling dirt at Biden.