Even as U.S. President Joe Biden has prioritized repairing the United States’ relationships with European allies and rebuilding trust, 2021 has been an unsettling year for security on NATO’s eastern borders. The status quo, in which a Russian invasion seemed readily deterrable, has been repeatedly undermined, leaving the region in a more fragile place than at any point since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Recent U.S. intelligence estimated that about 70,000 Russian troops had moved near the Ukrainian border and were constructing supply lines, including for medical units and fuel, that could provide them long-term support during a sustained military campaign. The biggest sea change in Europe took place in Belarus. At this point, it is not an exaggeration to say that Belarus has been absorbed into Russia in an all but an official sense. Belarus has also begun to present a continuous threat to Poland along the border they share. I have written more on this subject here.
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