Russia Finally Invades Ukraine, Now What?
Yesterday the event that has seemed inevitable for the past two weeks finally happened - Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine. Instead of using brute force to get troops behind the Ukrainian border, however, he pulled the subversive trick of recognizing the two separatist regions Luhansk and Donetsk as legitimate states. That move gave Putin the pretext for sending in Russian troops as part of a “peacekeeping mission.” Even worse, the newly minted states have signed agreements with Russia to allow the country to build military bases in the region.
The Russian – Ukrainian conflict has been a controversial topic of discussion in the US, with both the far right and the far left becoming strange bedfellows in their quest to keep the US from interfering in any way. Accusations of warmongering, of imperialism, and of the US being overly meddlesome in the affairs of other countries coming from both sides of the political spectrum.
No, I don’t think the US should send troops to Ukraine. I also think doing nothing is unacceptable. While Ukraine is not a NATO ally it is a small country that has fought hard to be a liberal democracy against very challenging circumstances. I seem to remember a time when the US fought a war with Russia in which one of the key ideas was that countries like Ukraine should have self-determination free from Russian influence. The war was a long time ago though, I think many people have forgotten about it.
Not to mention, the argument over putting boots on the ground is a strawman at this point – I have not seen anyone from either within or outside the Biden administration propose anything of the sort. I’d argue that the Biden administration has beclowned itself in its efforts to keep this invasion from happening by posing the threat as an “if” instead of a “when” and thinking it can somehow shame Putin out of doing the thing he clearly wanted to do. As of this writing, it’s not even clear what sanctions the US will put on Russia for invading Ukraine, making the idea of the US sending troops to Ukraine laughable. And yet the accusations of bloodlust and imperialism and war profiteering continue on.
There is a whole lot of daylight between “send in the troops” and “let someone else handle this” however, and I think it would be appropriate for the US to help Ukraine by exploring those options.