The Biden administration is working hard to build a coalition of European partners capable of deterring Russia’s threatened invasion of Ukraine. However, the circumstances surrounding the current crisis will likely drive Biden to give Putin most of what he wants. First of all, nobody in NATO wants Ukraine to join the alliance, because it is already overextended. Second, the domestic electorate on both sides of the political aisle is not favorably disposed to new overseas military commitments. Third, Washington does not need to get crosswise with the world’s only other nuclear superpower in its own backyard. Fourth, Ukraine is located so close to the Russian heartland that Putin’s objections to Western forces operating there are understandable. And finally, it will probably be sufficient to mollify Putin by conveying tacit assurances, rather than formally caving in to his demands. If Putin can portray his campaign of intimidation as a victory, he probably will feel no need for further military action, and Biden can return to domestic matters. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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