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The Impotent West

American President Joe Biden today announced new sanctions against Russia after its president Vladimir Putin launched a de facto war against Ukraine.

This invasion was long predicted; the only question was whether the earlier declared sanctions by Biden would deter Putin from this incursion.  They did not.

Despite the earlier threats by The West, Putin on Monday announced Russia’s recognition of the independence of the two pro-Russia regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine and sent troops to protect them.

This sparked international condemnation which Putin ignored.

As I wrote earlier, Putin obviously calculated the potential impact of the sanctions, concluded that the pain would be minimal from a weakened Western alliance and worth the price to impose Russian hegemony in Eastern Ukraine.    

Today’s broader military action by Russia is the next step in Putin’s dream of resurrecting the former Soviet Union that collapsed beginning in1989.

Now that Russia has overtly signaled its plan to conquer Ukraine, what will the West do other than impose further economic sanctions that Putin will ignore?

Proclamations and condemnation aside, the West—specifically NATO—is not prepared to send troops to Ukraine.  It is not a member of NATO and President Biden was clear today when he declared that the organization would defend its members. 

Translation: both NATO and the U.S. are prepared to sacrifice Ukraine.  But are they prepared to draw a line in the sand and defend NATO members Estonia and Latvia—former satellite nations of the Soviet Union that share a border with Russia?

Vladimir Putin has gambled that the West lacks the resolve to stop his armed aggression.  He believes that Europe and NATO don’t want a war and—despite words to the contrary—are willing to sacrifice Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence to avoid military conflict.

Furthermore, Biden’s chaotic abandonment of Afghanistan further emboldened Putin’s conviction that he could act with impunity because of America’s fatigue with never ending wars.

Barring a surprising decision by Western powers, Russia faces no serious consequence for its invasion of Ukraine and eventual control of the nation.

The ultimate test will be what happens when Putin decides to move against the weaker NATO members on Russia’s borders.

If the past few days are any indication, the world will learn that lesson perhaps in the near future.

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