War With Ukraine Is Putin's 'Revenge' Against US

Stability in Europe rests on the actions of the US and its allies: experts
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2022 4:01 PM CST
War With Ukraine Is Putin's 'Revenge' Against US
A man stands in front of a Russian Ka-52 helicopter gunship seen in the field after a forced landing outside Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

He may have been launching war against Ukraine, but it was the West that Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to have in his sights early Thursday. It was the West that created the "fundamental threats" to Russia that prompted military action, he said, per Time. "All of the so-called Western bloc, which the US formed in its image and likeness ... is what's known as the empire of lies." The US and its allies "tried to crush us" after the fall of the Soviet Union and "[we] will never forget it," he added. He also said attempts at intervention in Ukraine "will lead to consequences of the sort that you have not faced ever in your history." Here's what experts say that could mean for Ukraine and the world:

  • It's clear that "Putin intends this war as his revenge against the West, and the United States in particular," writes Simon Shuster at Time. The US and its allies are therefore faced with a dilemma. "They can either break their promises of support for Ukraine and abandon the country to Russia, or they can risk getting pulled into a war with a nuclear superpower intent on their humiliation."
  • Thus, we have "the greatest military crisis on the European continent since the Cold War," writes WJ Hennigan at Time. "The standoff between the US and Russia, two nations that command the world's largest nuclear arsenals, has no modern precedent. Even during the Cold War, the nations' military forces were never so closely positioned amid an active conflict." He adds the situation is "volatile" and the consequences "unpredictable."

  • The Washington Post editorial board argues President Biden, who's promised assistance to Ukraine, "is right to answer Mr. Putin robustly, even at some risk" to the US and its allies, as "the peace and stability of Europe" is at stake. Putin is "claiming, grotesquely, that Russia must unleash war on Ukraine because it threatens Russia, when his real fear is that exemplary democratic success in a large, culturally similar neighbor would undermine his own kleptocratic rule," and "he must not get away with it."
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes the US (alongside Britain and Russia) gave security assurances to Ukraine while persuading the country to give up its nuclear weapons in 1994. But getting assistance to Ukraine now requires the cooperation of neighboring countries, writes WaPo columnist Robert Kagan. And Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania may not be willing to take that risk with Russian forces just over the border, especially given Putin's vague threat.

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  • At the Atlantic, political scientist Eliot A. Cohen argues that continued support from Ukraine's friends is essential because the only thing that will bring about an end to the conflict—which Putin has orchestrated out of "unassuageable grief at the loss of empire, and fear of democratic contamination"—is deaths. "Russia, with its low birth rate and yearning for middle-class comfort, is not in the mood for the heroic sacrifice of thousands of its young men, particularly if a bloody Ukrainian war forces the deployment of conscripts," he writes.
  • The alternative could be "the final shredding of the post-Cold War settlement in Europe, and a fatal weakening of the American position in one of the three great centers of economic productivity in the world," writes Cohen. Russia would not only be able to station forces on the borders of four NATO member countries, but "China's Xi Jinping might take a chance on incorporating Taiwan by force, and Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei might make the final lunge for nuclear weapons."
(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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