Russia is using Ukraine to test the West’s military resolve

Biden must make clear that it won't stop with only economic sanctions

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Editorials

December 8, 2021 - 9:48 AM

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, and President Joe Biden meet for talks at the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland on June 16, 2021. (Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS)

Vladimir Putin wants the world to forget what happened in 2014. That’s the year he amassed troops at the Ukraine border to assist Russian-backed separatists fighting the Kyiv central government. They wound up shooting down a Malaysian jumbo jet, killing all 298 aboard. Also in 2014, Russia staged the conditions for Putin’s illegal seizure and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Putin wants the world to forget 2014 in order to argue that NATO, not Russia, poses the greatest threat to world stability. It’s precisely because of Russian expansionism that NATO is weighing Ukraine’s entry into the trans-Atlantic, mutual-defense pact. Putin is trying hard to portray Russia as the victim when, in fact, it is the clear aggressor. He’s in the process of amassing an expected 175,000 Russian troops near Ukraine’s border. The Biden administration warns that Russia is preparing to do to the rest of Ukraine what it did to Crimea.

Why should folks here care about stuff happening half a world away? It matters because these are the real ingredients of a major, full-blown superpower military confrontation. At a minimum, a Russian invasion would provoke massive new economic sanctions — even more punishing than the ones still in force against Russia since the 2014 retaliation.

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