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Women look at a screen displaying exchange rates at a currency exchange office in St. Petersburg. Women look at a screen displaying exchange rates at a currency exchange office in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 1, 2022 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

For the West, Now Comes the Hard Part

Friday, March 4, 2022

Just over a week since it began, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resembles a tale of two wars. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the past week can hardly have been reassuring. Between the poor performance of the Russian military on the ground and the existential shock of Western sanctions on the Russian economy, it seems to be proof that he suffered from a severe case of war optimism.

For the West, the story is quite the reverse. Despite the outrage over Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets, the surprisingly tenacious fight put up by Ukraine’s outgunned military has become a cause célèbre, while President Volodymyr Zelensky’s heroic political leadership has made him an inspiration. And despite the shock of the war, the West’s response to it—from economic sanctions to delivering belated military aid to Ukraine—has begun to fuel a euphoric sense that a long-awaited historical turning point has arrived. ...

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