December 6, 2021


“President Joe Biden pledged Friday to make it ‘very, very difficult’ for Russia’s Vladimir Putin to take military action in Ukraine as U.S. intelligence officials determined that Russian planning is underway for a possible military offensive that could begin as soon as early 2022. The new intelligence finding estimates that the Russians are planning to deploy an estimated 175,000 troops and almost half of them are already deployed along various points near Ukraine’s border.” AP News

Both sides condemn Putin, and call on the US and NATO to support Ukraine:

“Given the likely consequences in lost lives and economic growth, invading Ukraine is not an idea that should pass a rational cost-benefit analysis. Unfortunately, there are signs that Mr. Putin does not view the question in those terms but rather as a matter of restoring Russia to its former glory and reversing the Soviet breakup, which he has called a ‘geopolitical catastrophe.’ In July, he published a lengthy and tendentious article arguing — ominously — that Ukraine is not a legitimate independent state but, historically, an integral part of Russia, with no true ethnic identity, culture, religion or language of its own. There may still be time to convince Mr. Putin that his best hope lies in a diplomatic solution, as Mr. Blinken again proposed in a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Thursday. For U.S. diplomacy to succeed, though, it must be backed up with political, economic and military strength.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Western leaders have consistently underestimated Mr. Putin because they misjudge his ambitions. He doesn’t want Russia to become a normal European power. He views the breakup of the Soviet Union as a national tragedy, and he wants to restore a Greater Russia by bringing the former Soviet republics back under Kremlin sway… Mr. Putin is looking for the right time and means to make his move, and he will if he thinks the costs will be acceptable…

“More than diplomacy will be needed for deterrence. The best way to send that message is more lethal military assistance to Ukraine… Sending NATO military advisers and trainers to Ukraine can’t be ruled out. The U.S. and Europe will also have to make clear that they are willing to go much further than previous rounds of sanctions. Nord Stream 2 should die, and tighter restrictions on Putin cronies and Russian debt issuance are needed.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Moscow is ratcheting up the threat of invasion to convince Biden to pressure Ukraine into major concessions. Pushing Kyiv to accept occupied parts of Donbas as autonomous entities under the Minsk Protocol (arranged without U.S. involvement) will simply legitimize Moscow’s aggression, undercut the Ukrainian government, and provoke social unrest from which Russia can benefit…

“If any U.S.-Russia deal undermines Kyiv’s control over the Donbas, the Summit for Democracy in Washington on December 9-10 will appear a sham, especially for countries bordering Russia. Instead of resisting and deterring authoritarian expansion, the White House would be directly complicit in establishing autocratic statelets in the middle of Europe. Moreover, Moscow will feel emboldened, knowing that if it masses troops along a neighbor’s borders, the West may surrender preemptively.”
Janusz Bugajski, Washington Examiner

“Biden needs a more comprehensive strategy of engagement [toward Ukraine]. The first, obvious and overdue step is to name a high-profile U.S. ambassador to Ukraine with personal ties to Biden. Second, the Biden administration and NATO allies must deepen military-to-military ties with Kyiv, including an expanded military new assistance package to create greater capabilities to protect critical infrastructure and defend against aerial and naval threats, and tacit support for new Ukrainian purchases of armed drones from Turkey. The United States will not defend Ukraine from a Russian attack, so Ukrainians must be given the best means to defend themselves…

“Third, Biden’s team, together with European allies, must articulate a more sophisticated, comprehensive and long-term strategy for consolidating democracy and spurring economic growth in Ukraine, including more creative policies for protecting Ukraine’s energy, infrastructure, finance and media spheres from Russian influence. With so many democratic rollbacks around the world in recent years, Biden’s team must double down on strengthening Ukraine’s still-fragile democratic experiment. Nothing would please Putin more than democratic breakdown in Ukraine… A more effective U.S. policy toward Russia begins with a more stable, predictable, robust and effective policy toward Ukraine.”
Michael McFaul and Oleksiy Honcharuk, Washington Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“Biden should test [Putin’s] intentions, give his proposal a try… OK, we guarantee that Ukraine will not be let into NATO and that no U.S. weapons capable of threatening Russia will be deployed ‘in close vicinity to Russian territory’ (as Putin put it in his Kremlin speech). But, in exchange, Russia will pull its troops and heavy military equipment out of Ukraine and away from the border; some sort of truly neutral international peacekeeping force will move in to replace them; and Russia will pledge not to interfere with Ukraine’s internal politics…

“It may be significant that, in their recent remarks, neither Putin nor [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov said anything about Kiev’s desire for full membership in the European Union. (Ukraine now has ‘associated’ status.) Maybe they’re willing to tolerate some political shift to the west, as long as the prospect of a military shift is barred. It’s worth finding out.”
Fred Kaplan, Slate

From the Right

“Slowly, deliberately, and surely, the White House has eased U.S. pressure on the Russian government on multiple fronts. The administration denounces the Nord Stream 2 Russian-backed pipeline that threatens to make existing gas-transit routes through Ukraine obsolete (therefore removing a major obstacle to an invasion), while defending its decision to waive sanctions on entities involved in the pipeline’s construction and while lobbying members of Congress to abandon plans to reverse those waivers…

“Now, as U.S. officials consult with their Ukrainian counterparts about what they need to stare down the Russian threat, they’ve been reluctant to provide them with the air-defense systems and other advanced equipment that they’re requesting… instead of waiting for a Russian invasion to strip Kyiv of more Ukrainian territory, Biden should opt for a maximalist sanctions package tomorrow.”
The Editors, National Review

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.