Warnings That We Shouldn’t ‘Provoke’ Putin Miss the Point

Soldiers of the Ukrainian 55th artillery brigade operate a U.S. made Howitzer M777 cannon amid artillery fights on December 29, 2022 in Bakhmut, Ukraine. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images.)

We are entering the 12th month of a “special military operation” that was supposed to be over in well under 12 days. The Kremlin even told Russian officers to pack dress uniforms and medals for the intended military parades in Kyiv a few days after the shooting started. 

Things turned out differently.  Having launched the first land war in Europe since 1945 with the expressed intent to stop both the expansion of NATO eastward and the political and economic migration of Ukraine westward, Putin is already well on his way to being remembered for making one of the great strategic blunders in living memory. 

Finland—which shares more than 800 miles of border with Russia—and Sweden are applying to NATO. The process to admit Ukraine to the European Union is underway, and Ukraine’s military is rapidly switching to newer, better, and NATO-compatible  weapons. Germany, which recently agreed to ship tanks to Ukraine, has jettisoned much of its non-interventionist foreign policy and committed to much more robust defense spending.  Putin’s longstanding strategy of using energy to hold Western Europe hostage has largely backfired

China, which made a big show of its “no limits” partnership with its neighbor, has so far offered only extremely limited support for Russia. It’s almost as if the Beijing government is  embarrassed by its ally’s pathetic showing—which appears to have taken the Chinese leaders  by surprise.  

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