Keep out of Ukraine, Mr. President

The United States should not be experimenting with a proxy war approach in order to sabotage Russia, but should instead focus on repairing bilateral ties.

In the event of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the United States would be less likely to use its own armed troops thanks to Joe Biden's administration's late dawn of common sense. According to Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and senior administration officials, the United States is "unwavering" in its support for Ukraine's "sovereign and territorial integrity." There was a strong impression that the United States and NATO would intervene militarily in Ukraine's defense if Russia attacked.

However, the Biden administration's tone changed considerably when Russia began a military buildup near its border with Ukraine in late 2021 and asked that the alliance provide explicit security assurances. Aside from stepping up economic penalties, the administration's verbal promises of support for Kyiv remained unchanged. Administration officials also warned the Kremlin that an invasion of the neighboring country would have "severe" and maybe even "massive" repercussions. It has become more clear that the Western reaction will not be a military one. Additionally, negotiations between the United States and Russia on Moscow's requests for security assurances (such as a ban on Ukraine's NATO membership) are still ongoing.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the likelihood of an all-out conflict between NATO and Russia has been significantly reduced. A conflict of this magnitude would be disastrous for Europe's stability and for the global economy as a whole. Using conventional weapons would put the world at grave danger of nuclear war, which would be the worst-case scenario.

Though there seems to be a decrease in tension, this should be taken with caution. A "middle alternative" that avoids going to war or restricting a reaction to diplomatic objections and (likely ineffective) fresh economic penalties is being sought by the administration, according to many news sources. If Russia invades and seized Ukraine, the most often cited alternative is to finance, train, and equip "resistance troops." The CIA is already quietly training Ukrainian paramilitaries for this purpose, according to sources.

That technique has a number of flaws. Russian conquests would have an enormous impact on the strength and devotion of any guerilla army. As British sources claim, Russia's objective is to take over the whole nation and install a puppet state, which would likely lead to an armed rebellion. Anti-Russian sentiment is widespread among the people of western Ukraine. A significant amount of pushback from the United States may not be necessary, however, if Russia's invasion just secured fresh land around the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014 and that is already under the control of Moscow-backed separatist troops in the Donbas region. These regions of Ukraine have close ties to Russia because of their language, religion, and economy.

To add insult to injury, the United States would aid anti-Russian insurgents, which would further sully bilateral ties. Moscow's main beef with the West is that U.S.-NATO policies threaten Russia's vital security interests, particularly the drive to transform Ukraine into a military client and make its territory a forward staging ground for NATO military might.. That grievance would be exacerbated if a Ukrainian guerrilla army was supported to wage a proxy war. The Kremlin would be more inclined to retaliate in like as a result.

In the third place, Moscow has several options for retaliation. American forces are still stationed in Iraq and Syria, and their safety is in jeopardy due to the danger they face. Among other threats, pro-Iranian militias continue to attack those forces. Bashar al-regime Assad's gets help from Russia and Iran, as well as from a number of other countries, in its efforts to stay in power. The Kremlin and Tehran are becoming closer all the time. To persuade, aid, or entice Iran and its Syrian allies to redirect some of the firepower now being directed against Saudi-sponsored Sunni terrorists on US forces in northeastern Syria would not need a tremendous deal of work on our part. In Iraq, pro-Iranian militias might make the U.S. mission there more violent and frustrating if the United States pursues a similar tactic. Even in problematic nations like Colombia and Central America, Moscow has the potential to wreak havoc. Leaders in the United States need to keep in mind that they are not the only nation capable of launching a proxy war in Ukraine.

The United States' stated devotion to freedom and democracy might be tarnished if it actively assists Ukrainian opposition groups. Many ultra-nationalist and even fascist groups were present in the 2014 Maidan movement, which was backed by the United States and deposed Ukraine's elected, pro-Russian president. A number of authoritarian practices have been implemented by the present administration in Kyiv as well. As with Duterte's blatantly authoritarian Philippines, Ukraine is only "partly free" by Freedom House, a group that is normally favourable to regimes supported by the United States. Ukrainian democracy has only very thin roots, despite the apologists for Kyiv in the West who make up any and all excuses to justify such dictatorial conduct. It is quite conceivable that a resistance that is based on the same forces that support the existing illiberal administration would become even more authoritarian as time goes on.

U.S. leaders have sullied their reputations and trampled on American ideals by backing unworthy, even loathsome, foreign clients in proxy warfare against adversarial governments. The United States' support for the Nicaraguan Contras and Jonas Savimbi's dictatorial (and left-leaning) UNITA group in Angola during the 1980s was not a good image for the country. The Obama administration's choice to aid anti-Assad militants in Syria was much more egregious. It turned out that the vast majority of such groupings were not proponents of Western democracy. In Ukraine, we shouldn't draw such snide comparisons.

The United States should not be experimenting with a proxy war approach in order to sabotage Russia, but should instead focus on repairing bilateral ties. The interests of Russia and the United States are not incompatible. As a result of Washington's interference in Ukraine's internal affairs and attempt to expand NATO to Russia's borders, Moscow has few reasons to cause problems for the United States today. The United States might have approached Vladimir Putin's administration about joint measures to restrict China's expanding influence if its leaders had pursued a more sensible foreign policy. Instead, the United States has pushed Putin into the arms of Xi Jinping, who is eager to embrace him. Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads for some time, and a proxy conflict in Ukraine would be just another escalation. Those narrow-minded, fruitless plans should be rejected by the Biden administration.

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