The companies belonging to oligarch Oleg Deripaska continue their free fall. Since the sanctions were introduced on April 6, he lost $3,6 billion and might be forced to declare a default in the coming days. There’s poetic justice in this because Deripaska had enriched himself during the wild capitalism era in Russia, and now global capital is biting him in the ass. So yeah, the sanctions are harsh and they are working extremely well.
Now, in his meeting with Putin Trump can still give Putin the victory of his life if he says that the US is ready to recognize that the Crimea is part of Russia. The symbolic is stronger than the economic, and I have no doubt that Putin would be willing personally to cut Deripaska in small pieces and feed him to sharks in exchange for such a gift.
If Trump does say something like this, I don’t for a second believe it will be because Russians bribed or coerced him to do so. I think he simply doesn’t understand why it’s a big deal.
I also believe that Trump doesn’t for a second believe he owes his win to the Russians or to anybody else. Whether he actually does owe it or not is immaterial. He doesn’t make an impression of a person who is capable of recognizing something like this even if it is true. He certainly isn’t behaving like somebody who feels any obligation towards Russians. I don’t think he is cognitively equipped to recognize a debt of this magnitude.
So if he crushes Ukraine with such a statement, it will be a result of an impulsive, unthinking moment. And then everything will depend on whether Ukrainians will be able to realize that it’s a result of impulsivity and not of any concerted policy and of a coherent worldview.