Every protagonist wants something and is struggling to get it. Every plot point in a story consists of the protagonist's attempt to get the thing they desire and the things that frustrate that desire.
This does not require the protagonist to be in charge of events. Nor does it require that they achieve the thing they desire. For a great example of a protagonist who is not in change of events and does not achieve their desire, check out Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy (Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen, Unconditional Surrender).
But even though they are not in charge of events and are usually or even always frustrated by them, the protagonist still has a desire that they are struggling to achieve. History may be driven by forces beyond their control, but the story is driven by their desire and what they do to achieve it (whether successful or not).
So there is no reason that the protagonists lack of control over events should feel forced if you simply focus on what it is the protagonist desires and what they can do in an attempt to achieve it, even if that attempt is doomed to failure.