Ukraine Is a Russian Vital Interest, and Moscow Will Behave Accordingly, by Ted Galen Carpenter

Vladimir Putin has been nothing if not clear about this point, and the West ignores what he says at its peril. From Ted Galen Carpenter at nationalinterest.org:

Advocates of helping Ukraine achieve “victory” and thereby humiliate Russia are flirting with Armageddon.

Analysts and pundits in the United States and Europe are increasingly optimistic that Ukraine can win its war against Russia. They also are prodding the Biden administration to increase the flow of military hardware to Kyiv to maximize Ukraine’s chances of victory. A new missive along those lines comes from Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot in a May 2 Washington Post column. Boot contends that the United States should provide Ukraine “with every weapon it needs to win.” Nor, according to Boot, should the administration let Vladimir Putin’s threats of escalation deter Washington from that course of action.

More worrisome than recklessly hawkish sentiments from smug pundits is that U.S. and European officials also speak openly of helping Ukraine win its war and inflict a humiliating defeat on Russia. The U.S. delegation headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that visited Kyiv at the beginning of May repeatedly emphasized that theme, along with a pledge of Washington’s continuing military assistance until victory is achieved.

What such individuals do not seem to comprehend is that Ukraine is a vital Russian security interest, and the Kremlin likely will do whatever is necessary—probably even the use of tactical nuclear weapons—to prevent a defeat. The failure to understand just how important Ukraine is to Russia caused Western leaders to disregard Moscow’s warnings over more than a decade against making Kyiv a NATO member or an informal military ally. For the same reason, they seem to be making an even more dangerous blunder by ignoring the Kremlin’s latest warnings about dire consequences if NATO uses Ukraine as a pawn in a proxy war against Russia.

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