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How to Halt Putin’s Ukraine Push
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the opening ceremony of the International Military-Technical Forum "Army-2021" at the Patriot Park on August 23, 2021 in Kubinka, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the opening ceremony of the International Military-Technical Forum "Army-2021" at the Patriot Park on August 23, 2021 in Kubinka, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

How to Halt Putin’s Ukraine Push

Walter Russell Mead

As the Ukrainian crisis deepens, there is only one option that would stop a Russian invasion—and that is the one that all the serious players in Washington say is off the table: dispatching an American and coalition force to defend Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is not ready for war with the U.S.; informing his gamble is a well-grounded conviction that America is not committed enough to Ukraine to defend it by force.

History may look back on this as a failure of nerve equal to the appeasement of the 1930s. Britain and France thought war was unthinkable until it became unavoidable. With troops off the table, the Biden administration hopes to whip up a mass of economic sanctions and political repercussions (up to arming Ukrainian insurgents) grave enough to warn Mr. Putin away from his intended prey.

“Hopes” is the operative word. In Washington, where trying to guess Mr. Putin’s intentions has become a bigger indoor sport than Wordle, even administration insiders doubt this approach will work. A worst-case scenario, in which Russia seizes much of Ukraine and the West invokes sanctions that fail to reverse the invasion, seems likely.

America’s Indo-Pacific allies in particular are watching with horror. A Russian occupation would expose the fragile underpinnings of world order and encourage China and North Korea to probe for weakness. And if America responds to Russian aggression by building up North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces and entering a prolonged confrontation with Moscow, what becomes of the U.S. focus on the Pacific?

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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