Washington is worried that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is positioning to invade Ukraine. Don’t bet on that. Putin does not like to take risks, and a military campaign in Ukraine would incur several sizable ones. Even if an invasion succeeded, Moscow would then have to occupy and subsidize one of the poorest countries in Europe (a nation of over 40 million souls). And having done so, Putin would probably end up galvanizing resolve within NATO for higher military outlays. Then there are the sanctions that other nations would impose, and the domestic backlash if Russian casualties are extensive. Given all the drawbacks that might attend an invasion, it seems obvious that recent Russian troop movements near Ukraine are intended more as pressure on the Kyiv government than as a prelude to war. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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