December 27, 2017 | Leave a comment The Trump Administration’s announcement that it will provide anti-tank missiles to Ukraine is a move that’s long overdue. It’s also a slap in the face for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The timing and rationale behind President Trump’s decision, however, begs the question, why now? The answer may have to do with the ongoing Mueller investigation and allegations of Team Trump’s collusion with the Russian regime in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Taking a tough stance against a historic adversary of the United States is a no-brainer. And challenging Putin in what the Russian president regards as his backyard may be perceived as gutsy on the part of President Trump. Such a move should have occurred during the Obama administration. Instead, the former president opted to impose economic sanctions on Russia and specific individuals; among them, some said to be close to Putin. Since their implementation, sanctions have proven effective in driving down oil prices and causing the value of the Russian ruble to fall, thus tightening an economic noose around the neck of the Russian economy. Many believe the former president could have done more. Advisers close to Mr. Obama and many members of Congress urged him to supply the Ukrainian government with lethal weapons in addition to applying sanctions. Though support in Congress was bipartisan, he chose not to do so, believing such a move would provoke more violence. Putin, instead, grew emboldened, solidified his position in Crimea and launched bloody escapades in Eastern Ukraine. The Trump administration’s decision to bolster Ukraine’s defenses now, however, appears to be politically-motivated and calculated to deflect criticism from the president’s past pro-Russian comments and the lavish praise he bestowed upon Putin while on the campaign trail and in the early months of his presidency. Ukraine is at a critical juncture in its history. Russian military movements in the region are increasingly aggressive. Putin wants to expand his nation’s tentacles and ensnare countries that had been in the grip of the former Soviet Union for the better part of the 20th Century. The role the United States assumes in combating this must be one predicated on strategic importance to American interests and those of its allies, rather than those central to the survival of the Trump administration. The president’s support for the Ukrainian government should not be used to distract the American people from the indictments of Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, which include charges that they laundered money and concealed millions of dollars made while working on behalf of a pro-Putin political party in Ukraine. Helping a beleaguered ally should not be used to steer public attention away from charges that senior members of the Trump campaign had repeated contacts with dozens of Russian individuals with ties to the Putin regime. Providing a nation with weapons to defend its sovereignty and protect its citizens must not justify past lies by former National Security Adviser Michael J. Flynn. Nor potential violations of the Logan Act. Nor lifting of sanctions against adversaries. Nor allegedly setting up back-channel communications between Jared Kushner, Russian diplomats, and known agents of Russia’s security service, the FSB. The list of bad behavior by Trump advisers and family members grows with each passing day and the prospect of more charges of illegal activities is presumably on the horizon. Aiding Ukraine is vital to the survival of both that country and its people. It should not be used as a diversionary tactic to protect President Trump’s self-interests and the preservation of his presidency. It should be provided to ensure freedom, independence, security, the rule of law and, quite possibly, the preservation of democracy itself.