Former U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

With Russian troops now deep inside Ukraine, and with NATO and the United Nations Security Council caught up in a series of emergency sessions in order to respond to the conflict, it may seem a bit glib to fixate on the question of how the Russian invasion will shape domestic politics in the United States. Still, it is important to also acknowledge what this moment in history means for the future trajectory of the U.S., and, in turn, what shifting attitudes in Washington might mean for U.S.-Russia relations. It must be acknowledged upfront: Thousands if not millions of Ukrainians could be […]

Ukrainian soldiers take positions in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2022 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Much of what we do at WPR from week to week and year to year is to keep tabs on the many mundane stories around the world so that we can inform you about the trends and developments that gradually and in combination shape history. But on occasion, we find ourselves face to face with moments that make history, suddenly and singly. The war in Ukraine is one of those moments. As I wrote Thursday as the first Russian attacks began, we will look back on it as a “before and after” event, one that will have enormous implications for […]

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya addresses the United Nations Security Council, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

There has been no shortage of analyses of what has motivated Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. Many of these arguments seem to implicitly assume that Russia is putting its geostrategic interests ahead of adherence to Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of armed conflict to resolve disputes absent self-defense or authorization from the Security Council. Similar arguments—that Russia is brazenly flouting and even threatening U.N. Charter norms—are being made in political speeches by leaders and representatives of the Western powers and U.N. member states. It is absolutely true that nothing less than the normative basis […]

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg participates in a media conference with European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Michel, Brussels, Feb 24, 2022 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

European Union leaders are converging on Brussels today for yet another emergency summit on Ukraine, the second in a week. European Council President Charles Michel called for the meeting yesterday in order to get the bloc’s leaders on the same page ahead of a new round of EU sanctions against Russia. And overnight, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine made further sanctions a certainty. A first round of sanctions against Moscow had already been officially adopted yesterday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deployment of troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine earlier this week. The first round of […]

The Brandenburg Gate is illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag to show solidarity with the country, Berlin, Germany, Feb. 23, 2022 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

The Russian invasion of Ukraine this morning ends several months of doubt and debate over the purpose of Moscow’s military buildup at the two countries’ border. Washington’s repeated warnings of an imminent military operation proved not to be the hysteria that Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed them as. In the end, Putin’s manufactured crisis was not an attempt at coercive diplomacy, or if it was, it was a failed one. War and conflict have rarely been absent from the European continent, even during the past 30 years of ostensible peace and prosperity. But a war of choice and aggression by […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony ahead of their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 3, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

As the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine looms ever larger, Turkey finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It does not want to antagonize Russia, with which it shares strategically vital interests, but it also needs to show its support for Ukraine and its NATO allies in the face of the greatest threat to European security in the post-Cold War era. This has forced Turkey to walk a finely calibrated diplomatic tightrope over the past month. During his visit to Kyiv on Feb. 3, Turkish President Recep Tayiip Erdogan proclaimed his support for Ukrainian sovereignty, reiterated […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 17, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Over the past several weeks, there has been nearly as much speculation about the nature and objectives of the Biden administration’s highly vocal approach to warning about the imminence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as there has been about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the current crisis. The most prominent strain of analysis, by now distilled into broadly held, conventional wisdom, is that by providing detailed, near-daily updates about Russian troop deployments around Ukraine’s borders, including highly specific intelligence and tactical analysis, the Biden administration has been seeking to “get inside Putin’s head,” thereby giving him pause or […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other during their meeting in Beijing, China, Feb. 4, 2022 (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin for Sputnik via AP).

Countries around the world are watching intensely to see if Russia will further escalate its ongoing standoff with Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday recognizing the independence of the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and subsequently deployed Russian troops to both to carry out what he referred to as a “peacekeeping mission.” At the same time, however, there is considerable attention on China’s response to the crisis, amid fears that Beijing could lend diplomatic support to Moscow, in light of their warming ties and converging interests. But even though Beijing has stopped short of condemning Russia […]

Ukrainian armed forces conduct exercises in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine, Feb.4, 2022 (AP photo by Mykola Tymche).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bellicose speech yesterday, in which he announced that Russia had recognized the independence of two separatist regions of Ukraine and would deploy military forces there as “peacekeepers,” suggests that after months of military posturing and diplomacy, a full-scale invasion may well be at hand. But while it is still impossible to know for sure how the crisis will play out, one consequence of it is already certain: There is no more use in dancing around reality using terms like “strategic competition” or “great power tensions” to describe relations between the West and Russia. We are in […]

Parked trucks block lanes of traffic during a protest against pandemic restrictions in Ottawa, Ontario, Feb. 14, 2022 (AP photo by Ted Shaffrey).

For the first time in half a century, Canada’s federal government has declared a national emergency. The move was in response to continuing demonstrations in major cities and at several points along the Canada-U.S. border, where truckers and other protesters have blockaded major commerce routes and crossings for the better part of a month. The protests, which paralyzed Canada’s capital city Ottawa for weeks, were sparked by a national COVID-19 policy requiring truck drivers to be vaccinated in order to cross into Canada from the United States. The movement has since expanded to give voice to a wider variety of […]

Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 5, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

The latest developments in Ukraine indicate that Russia is now in the final stages of preparing the groundwork for an invasion. Having spent weeks dismissing Western warnings of imminent war as mere hysteria, the Kremlin and its proxies in eastern Ukraine have begun spreading patently false accusations of genocide in Donbass at the hands of the Ukrainian military, while calling for mass evacuations of civilians to Russia. It suggests a chilling coda is close at hand to the months of debates among Western policymakers and analysts over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was intent on invading Ukraine, whether he was […]

A Ukrainian servicemember, seen through a camouflage mesh, stands at a frontline position in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Jan. 29, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

The terms “deterrence” and “coercive diplomacy” have figured prominently in debates over how the West should respond to the ongoing crisis over a potential Russian incursion into Ukraine. Much of the focus of those debates, however, has been narrow and episodic—how to prevent a Russian attack, for instance, or get Moscow to pull back its forces from the Russian-Ukraine border. While both concepts are necessary to understand the tensions currently on display in Europe between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and NATO, those tensions must be seen through a broader and more holistic lens, because the current crisis is the result […]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for an EU-AU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Feb. 17, 2022 (AP photo by Geert Vanden Wijngaert).

Seventy presidents and prime ministers from Europe and Africa are gathered today in Brussels for a long-awaited European Union-African Union summit, the sixth such summit between the two blocs. But ahead of that gathering, Europe’s 27 leaders huddled together for an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The emergency meeting was called by European Council President Charles Michel to brief the bloc’s leaders on the latest developments in the crisis, including a reported shelling of a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine, which occurred as the meeting of EU leaders was taking place. The EU leaders also heard a presentation […]

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

On Christmas Eve in 2002, I was suddenly dispatched from my base in Tokyo, where I was the New York Times bureau chief at the time, to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to cover reports that North Korea was about to reactivate a nuclear reactor that had previously been taken out of service as a result of painstaking negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. The United States suspected that if operations resumed at the reactor, which had supposedly been built for research purposes, the North Korean government would soon begin reprocessing its spent nuclear fuel to build up a supply […]

A woman holds a weapon during a basic combat training for civilians organized by a special forces unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 13, 2022 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

KYIV—Oleksandr Biletskyi is standing in a lecture hall on the outskirts of Kyiv laying out the items he considers most necessary to have on hand for emergencies. On the table in front of him, he’s placed a bag containing a compass, a pocketknife, a carabiner and a roll of tape. Gently, he adds three more bags: one with a Kalashnikov, one with a shotgun and one with a pistol. “We have to prepare for anything,” he tells me. Normally, this lecture hall, which belongs to Taras Shevchenko National University, offers continuing education courses in law, economics and psychology. Today, it’s […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron after their talks in Moscow, Feb. 7, 2022 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in Brussels today for a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Their meeting follows a busy diplomatic week full of high-level meetings aimed at preventing the outbreak of war near the European Union’s borders. But with the week drawing to a close, it remains to be seen how much closer to a peaceful resolution of the crisis the parties have come. The diplomatic flurry began Monday, when French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. Even before he sat down with Putin, Macron’s talking points raised […]

A U.S. soldier directs armored vehicles and tanks as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Although the response in Western capitals to Russia’s aggressive military posturing on its border with Ukraine has been couched in clear diplomacy-first terms, military contingency planning has stepped up a notch in recent weeks. The intent of these moves, at least judging from the rhetoric of U.S. and NATO leaders as well as respected commentators, is to strengthen deterrence.  Deterrence, as Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scholar, Thomas Schelling, elaborated in his seminal 1966 book, “Arms and Influence,” is meant to prevent an adversary from taking future actions. Schelling distinguished it from a second strategy of coercion, compellence, which is meant to change an adversary’s existing behavior. Neither is […]

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