How Far Would Biden Go to Defend Ukraine Against Russia?
Russia did not explicitly threaten to invade Ukraine, but did say that it had allegedly provoked the Ukrainian side of the border. Mr Putin has backed pro-Russian separatist rebellions in the east of the former Soviet republic since 2014, when a popular revolution ousted Ukraine’s Putin-backed president. Soon after, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine.
In a sign of growing tensions, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Millie spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov, on Tuesday. The Pentagon said in a statement that the call was aimed at “reducing risk and ensuring operational de-conflict.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has said that the United States is providing information and data to Kiev about the Russian military buildup. Western officials have confirmed that NATO allies are stepping up intelligence sharing with Ukraine, in the hope that a better understanding of the growing threat will help Kiev to better prepare and better deter Moscow.
Even in the worst case scenario, most analysts say Kiev should not expect a defense from the US military.
“The Russians are fully aware, because they have been invading Ukraine for seven years now, we will not send them to the 82nd Airborne,” said Samuel Charap, now a former State Department official at RAND Corporation. “And I think they have valued everything less than that, in the sense that they are willing to pay the price.”
“That’s why it was so difficult,” he said. “There is no easy way out of this.”
US officials say they do not believe Mr Putin has decided whether to take military action against Ukraine. While the threat is being taken seriously, officials say it is time for the United States and its allies to build Kiev and convince Moscow that such a move would be a grave mistake.
Whatever Mr Putin thinks, his troop build-up is likely to test the will of the United States, NATO and Europe.
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