February 24, 2022

Russia Invades Ukraine

Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east… ‘Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes,’ Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.” Reuters

Both sides condemn the Russian invasion and call for a unified response from the US and NATO:

The magnitude of the Russian gambit is staggering. Whatever Mr. Putin’s ideas on how Ukraine should relate to Russia, whatever his grievances over Western encroachment on what he perceives as Russia’s sphere of influence, whatever his views on Russia’s place in Europe and the world, an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign European state is an unprovoked declaration of war on a scale, on a continent and in a century when it was thought to be no longer possible…

“If nothing else, Mr. Putin should consider what this means for his people, to whom he has lied, day after day, about purported threats and slights from Ukraine and the West. There will be body bags coming home to Russia and economic dislocation and global ostracism for a nation that has suffered terribly over the past century from war and totalitarian rule.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“[The United States should] continue to make public its intelligence that sheds light on Russian intentions to spoil surprises. Traditional and social media with the potential to reach Russian journalists and civil society should counter the Kremlin’s narrative. And images of what is taking place inside Ukraine should reach the world, leaving no doubt about the toll in innocent lives caused by Mr. Putin’s adventurism…

“Removing the Kremlin’s cushion of high energy prices, which have long been a windfall for the government, would be the best sanction… On a more strategic level, the United States should try to build some distance between China and Russia. That won’t happen overnight, but the Biden administration should step up its private diplomacy with China, highlighting the economic and strategic risks — including financial punishment and increasing anti-China sentiment in the West — of it being closely associated with an aggressive Russia…

“European governments need to prepare their publics for major increases in refugees fleeing Ukraine and make the case for why they must be supported. And citizens of both Europe and the United States need to be warned about the potential for cyberattacks and energy shortages… Mr. Putin’s war of choice demands a response of necessity.”
Richard N. Haass, New York Times

“NATO should activate its high readiness response forces and forward deploy them to Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania with expediency. France should follow through on its pledge to deploy ground forces to Romania. The Biden administration, with allied support, should immediately introduce sanctions targeting the full gamut of Russian energy, financial, and export industries. Oligarchs and their families associated with Putin's regime, however peripherally, should also face cutting sanctions…

“For all his references to history and Nazism, Putin is now doing exactly what the Nazis did so brutally so many years ago: shredding the peace of Europe in the pursuit of territorial imperialism and nationalist bigotry. This challenge to the post-WWII international order must be met with the full diplomatic and economic force that can be mustered. Ukraine must be enabled with the fullest range of targeting intelligence and lethal means of defense. And in the very worst-case scenario, should Putin extend war to NATO, the U.S. and its allies must defeat the Russian Federation.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “If Putin carries out the full scale of what are now his clear intentions, the assault will be the largest, most complex military operation in Europe since World War II. But it goes too far—as some network commentators have done—to liken the attack to World War II or Putin to Adolf Hitler. The Russian military, though much-improved in recent years, has nowhere near the might of Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht. Nor does it have the slightest ability to move on from Ukraine to Poland and, from there, to the rest of Europe. Nor, for all of Putin’s grandiosity, does such a wild-eyed scheme seem to be his intention…

“What’s happening now is more comparable to the Soviet Union’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, to keep its leader, Alexander Dubcek, from pursuing what he called ‘socialism with a human face’ and reaching out to the nations of Western Europe for support. The Soviets sent in five tank divisions—250,000 troops—to sack Dubcek, install a loyalist, and oppress the population, destroying the roots and branches of the pro-democracy movement called the ‘Prague Spring.’… Putin intends to bring Ukraine back in Moscow’s orbit with similarly brusque methods.”
Fred Kaplan, Slate

“Whatever happens in Ukraine, the Cold War is back on. NATO is suddenly relevant again as the Russian bear is once again knocking at Western Europe’s door. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania are. So are former Soviet bloc countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The Russian threat will likely help to focus NATO minds on defense and give the coalition a revitalized purpose… By the time you read this on Thursday morning, the world will be a very different place. In coming days, the world will see what Russian peacekeeping looks like.”
David Thornton, Racket News

“The questions of how we got here — the policy mistakes and missteps, the compromises that could or should have been offered, the deterrence that could have been built to avoid this outcome — are, in a sense, now a matter for the historians. These are important questions, but they are much, much less important as I write this than the fact that the missiles are now flying, the tanks are now rolling, and, at this dark hour, young men wait in the cold and the mud for the firefights that are coming…

Pray for all the young men at the front — young men who will soon face the fury of modern mechanized combat, young men with families and loved ones at home, young men who only wish to defend their country, and, if possible, make it home alive. And pray for all the civilians who will, over the next days and weeks, get caught in the cross fire. To the Kremlin, they are not people or even names or numbers. Shame on us if we treat them that way.”
Mark Antonio Wright, National Review

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