December 07, 2021

What's at risk in Ukraine, and why it matters to America and its allies

Originally published in The Hill

Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed an invasion force near Ukraine’s borders, although it is far from clear that he intends to use it. He has all but declared his intention to regain control of a land he sees as rightfully Russia’s. The Biden administration and NATO have made good statements and taken some military actions to deter Putin — but the West’s commitment remains ambivalent.

It must not be. Americans and Europeans must understand that Ukraine’s independence is of vital import — for ourselves as well as Ukraine — and must act accordingly. That is also the best way to deter Putin.

The establishment of independent Ukrainian and Belarusian states after the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991 moved Russia’s borders hundreds of miles to the east, creating a de facto buffer between Russia and Central Europe. The U.S. and Europe have relied on that buffer to reduce their militaries considerably.

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