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A Very Troubling Situation

Concerning Russia’s buildup of military forces along its border with Ukraine, this is a very troubling situation. An emboldened Vladimir Putin is in no country’s best interest – not even Russia’s.
As a former (and forever) KGB agent, Putin’s motives are plentiful: Clearly he wants Russia to be the dominant power in Europe. • He likely believes Ukraine "is actually a part of Russia, belongs to Russia," as our own U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs recently said. • There’s ample evidence to suggest one of Putin’s objectives is the reunification of the old Soviet Union. • Perhaps he sees an opportunity to strike before Ukraine is admitted to NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). • Putin certainly knows nations which belong to NATO are bound to protect one another, and he hates such unity so close to his borders. • And he also loathes America’s influence throughout the world.
With the mass mobilization of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border, Putin is either looking to invade, or he’s looking to extract massive concessions from Ukraine and the West – particularly the United States. Putin himself may not yet know which of those two outcomes he prefers.
One thing’s for sure though: America stands at a considerably weaker position to deal with this situation than we were just over a year ago. It’s been one feeble-minded decision after another, the most notable being President Biden waiving the sanctions that the U.S. had placed on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany. Once completed, that pipeline will only further Europe’s dependence on oil from Russia, making many of those nations beholden to Putin.
What else? Biden has refused to hold Russia accountable for the malicious Colonial Pipeline hacking attack last May, which was the work of a Russian organization. Although he has since reversed course, Biden apparently tried to withhold ~$200 million in defensive military assistance to Ukraine last month. And he continues to reward Putin’s behavior by elevating him on the international stage with summits and high-profile meetings.
Also for whatever reason, Biden has been slow to consider any meaningful sanctions against Russia unless/until that country actually invades Ukraine. Why would you wait? Russia is amassing troops along the border, gassing up the tanks, and loading the bombers. Debilitating sanctions ought to be in place now to try and diffuse this situation, not after an invasion occurs.
Finally, Biden’s own State Department has started to send home nonessential staff and family members from our embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. The State Department also (correctly) warned that it “will not be in a position to evacuate U.S. citizens” later. It’s an eerie reminder of the horribly botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, which signaled a complete lack of competence from the White House.
This is a situation that needs careful attention from Congress and competent people in the White House. Don’t forget: China is watching this situation closely as well. Not because China has any particular interest in Ukraine, but because they’re salivating over Taiwan and want to see how the United States and the world deal with a misbehaving tyrant.