Joe Biden has made a career of saying foolish things, and people tend to get injured. But it counts what the President of the United States says, regardless of who he is. President Biden’s frank admission that Russia may launch a “minor invasion” into Ukraine has been significant.
On Sunday, the New York Times covered Russia’s force buildup at crucial places along the Ukrainian border in a pretty extraordinary way. The paper is replete with insider information on what top Biden Administration national-security officials have to say about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions. American, European, and Ukrainian officials debate whether Mr. Putin would pursue a maximalist strategy or a more scaled-down version.
Moreover, Russian military chiefs are convinced that a blitzkrieg strike might conquer Ukraine, but they are concerned that they may not keep the nation. It has sparked suspicion inside NATO that Mr. Putin may invade, attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government, and then withdraw his soldiers in part. Europe may wish to investigate if a lesser military intervention might further divide the continent.
Some speculate that he will try to seize the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, engulfed in a grueling proxy war since 2014. Another possibility is that Putin may expand the operation to seize all of east Ukraine, from the Dnieper River to the Black Sea. According to the latter notion, Russian forces would “decimate” Ukrainian troops to the point that resistance in the West would crumble.
In a news conference on January 19, Joe Biden stated unequivocally that Russia’s “small invasion” into Ukraine would not be greeted with a substantial Western reaction. Hunch is that Putin will relocate. As if he were a pundit rather than the President, Biden replied, “He needs to do something.” Until recently, more public debate on what steps could be taken to persuade Moscow to back down.
She claims that since then, the focus in Washington and Europe has moved from preventing Putin from gaining the power to planning for an invasion. The issue is whether Moscow will devour its neighbor (and former Soviet satellite) whole or whether it will start small and measure the reaction. Biden’s infamously bad judgment isn’t the sole cause for this. But his statements are proving to be an expensive error.