Skip to main content
Biden’s Only Honorable Course on Ukraine and Russia
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet for talks at the Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet for talks at the Villa La Grange on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)

Biden’s Only Honorable Course on Ukraine and Russia

Walter Russell Mead

As President Biden tries to prevent a Russian attack on Ukraine, his administration continues to wrestle with a world that has refused to conform to its expectations. Russia is not parked. Iran is not cooperating. China—whose activities around Taiwan, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned last week, look “like rehearsals” for more-serious aggression—has neither engaged with the Biden administration on common issues like climate nor been impressed by Washington’s get-tough policy.

Driving Vladimir Putin’s military buildup is the Kremlin’s conviction that time is not on its side. Largely because of Ukrainian bitterness at Mr. Putin’s 2014 invasion and the continuing war in the country’s southeastern region known as the Donbass, more Ukrainians are determined to escape what they see as Moscow’s suffocating embrace. Gradual changes in the civil service, the judiciary, the intelligence services and the educational system, implemented with Western encouragement and help, are quietly but steadily pushing Ukraine away from post-Soviet Russia and anchoring it more firmly in the West.

For Mr. Putin and the Russian nationalists whose support he needs, the consolidation of genuine Ukrainian independence is a threat. Russia needs Ukraine, they believe, to dominate the Black Sea, re-establish itself as the principal power in Europe, and defend the Orthodox and Slavic character of the Russian Federation itself at a time of rapid demographic change. A Ukraine aligned with the West, and especially with anti-Russian countries like Poland and the Baltic republics, is an unbearable humiliation and an unacceptable threat to Russian power.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

Related Articles

How to Equip Ukraine to Break the Black Sea Blockade

Bryan Clark & Peter Rough

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Biden administration and other Western governments have been excruciatingly careful...

Continue Reading

Without a Major Shift in US Energy Policy, European Resistance to Russian Aggression and the Transatlantic Relationship Are at Risk

Thomas J. Duesterberg & Angélique Talmor

Europe is facing a serious economic downturn, with industrial production and real wages both falling rapidly and factories in key industries such as c...

Continue Reading

Will Europe's Energy Crisis Trigger Another Wave of Refugees from Ukraine?

Mónika Palotai & Kristóf György Veres

As summer months kick in and air conditioners are cranked up, heating is hardly on anyone's mind. Yet energy scarcity in Eastern Europe coupled with m...

Continue Reading