Russia has amassed 125,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, bringing back memories of 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied, then later annexed the Crimean region of that country.
Now, eight years later Ukraine is again facing threats from Russia. As we watch news video of Ukraine preparing and restocking bomb shelters built during the Cold War, reservists being called up and the US and NATO heads of state warning Russia against yet another invasion, we cannot help but ask how we got here?
Surely, there are a number of things that go into the tensions but a combination of two seem obvious. First, shortly after taking office President Biden reversed US policy and removed the embargo on supplies and technical support for Russia to build the huge Nordstream 2 pipeline, while getting nothing in return. Second, the chaotic and grossly mismanaged US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which began without coordination with our allies who also had troops in Afghanistan, showed a complete lack of effective planning and a disengagement from allies who we were supposedly working with. Those two incidents combined to send a signal to Russia that the US was not ready nor willing to confront Russia on the international stage and, even if it did so, it would not effectively coordinate with allies or be effective in any attempt to help Ukraine’s armed forces.
For someone who supposedly came to office with vast foreign policy experience, President Biden’s first year in office has been a projection of weakness and mismanagement that has only encouraged US adversaries. As Russia amasses troops for an invasion, and Chinese threats toward Taiwan grow louder, the threats to peace by the world’s totalitarian countries and dictators only grows. The problem is that perceived weakness by the US will require forceful action to restore credibility and we can only hope that it comes sooner rather than later.