Letters to the Editor: Trump was Putin’s dupe. That doesn’t mean the Ukraine war is his fault

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands.
Then-President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018.
(Alexy Nikolsky / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: The Times appears eager to focus blame for the ongoing human tragedy in Ukraine on former President Trump. He played the part as Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s dupe, but there are other more significant factors that your analysis should have addressed.

Any analysis should at least go back to the 1994 Budapest memorandum, where Russia and America (under President Clinton) guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for its surrender of its nuclear weapons. In 2014, Russia violated the agreement by annexing Crimea, but Ukraine received no protection from America (led by President Obama), also a violation of the memorandum.

Trump became an ally in Putin’s plan to control Ukraine, but this strategy ended when President Biden took over. Biden’s hurried and clumsy exit from Afghanistan gave Putin new hope for his plan to control Ukraine.


Unexpected factors can upset any endeavor, of which there have been many as the Ukraine invasion has unfolded. But it is clear that both Russia and the U.S. have again violated the 1994 memorandum, Russia for attacking and the U.S. for not protecting Ukraine. Both countries have blood on their hands.

Clint Granath, South Pasadena


To the editor: Your analysis states that in 2019, Trump “threatened” to hold up weapons deliveries to Ukraine. He didn’t threaten; he actually did hold up weapons deliveries to Ukraine for almost two months.

Trump influenced this current war in Ukraine with his fealty to Putin.

Mindy Taylor-Ross, Venice


To the editor: There is a new game called Trump vs. Putin. The moderator reads a statement and the contestants have to try to guess whether it was a quote from the former U.S. president or the Russian president.

It is an extremely difficult game, and the only tip is that if the grammar seems especially twisted and senseless, the content illogical and incoherent and seemingly looping back on itself to the point that one suspects the quote was composed by a non-native speaker, then it is undoubtedly Trump.


Otherwise, the two men’s statements are virtually indistinguishable.

Peter Kinman, Laguna Beach


To the editor: After a two-hour private meeting between Trump and Putin in 2018, our ex-president took the meeting notes and instructed his translator not to disclose the contents.

What did Trump say to Putin on that occasion, and why did he insist on keeping it secret? The brutal invasion of Ukraine makes it imperative that congressional committees subpoena the translator to find out.

Frederic Grannis, Long Beach