David Sanger of the New York Times sums up the crisis crisply:
—Russian troops are encircling Ukraine from three sides.
—There are warnings of crushing Western sanctions against Russia if more of Moscow’s troops enter Ukraine.
—Yet there are still “off-ramps” in the crisis. Soon, the United States and NATO are expected to react forcefully to Russia’s threats.
—The major issues:
*Mr. Putin’s demand for ironclad assurances that Ukraine reverse what he terms a “drift” toward the West.
*Polls show that in the years since Moscow’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, Ukrainians are more determined than ever to join Europe’s free states.
Constructive options ahead?
“It’s possible,” according to Times correspondent Sanger, “that Russia merely wants to stop Ukraine from joining NATO and get an assurance that the U.S. and NATO will never place offensive weapons that threaten Russian security in Ukraine.”
At a Jan. 24 news conference focusing on the crisis, President Biden said “the likelihood that Ukraine is going to join NATO in the near term is very remote. So there is room (to work it out) if Mr. Putin wants to.”
High stakes in ending the crisis
“If the Western powers intend to pressure Mr. Putin or his elites to dissuade him from war, then they’d better mean it.” —Tom Nichols in The Atlantic Magazine and the author of its newsletter, Peacefield.
“The West must vow,” Mr. Nichols added, “that additional Russian violence in Ukraine will mean not only sleepless nights for Putin but everyone around him.
“Only Vladimir Putin knows why he has escalated tensions,” according to Mr. Nichols, “and only Putin can make the choice to bring Europe back from the brink of a major war.
“Instead,” the Atlantic columnist concludes, “President Biden and NATO should prepare to get through this crisis by controlling things that are in their power. These include planning ahead to use the West’s considerable capacity to make Russia pay for a military adventure in Ukraine for years to come, if that becomes necessary.”
Let’s hope that talk, rather than war, will persuade Moscow to avoid tipping the scales to an unspeakable conflict with the West.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More