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National Interest: Can the US and NATO Avoid a Wider War in Ukraine?

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The United States and NATO are waging a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine by providing munitions and intelligence to kyiv, writes Christopher Lane, Distinguished Professor of International Relations and Robert Gates Chair in National Security at Texas A&M University.

The Kremlin (and not only Putin) may not accept defeat in the Ukraine war. And the longer the war drags on, the more incentive Moscow has to go after the military supply lines that the US and NATO provide to Ukraine.

In his speech to Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the United States to “do more.” This is to increase American intervention.

But the US and NATO are actually pushing their support for Ukraine into a dangerous region, where the risks of a confrontation between the US and NATO on one side and Russia on the other are high. Meanwhile, negotiations between kyiv and Moscow mean that a diplomatic solution to the war is within reach. In this regard, the United States should focus its efforts on not becoming militarily involved in the conflict, given that US officials have repeatedly emphasized that the United States will not send combat forces or impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

third World war
As President Joe Biden said on March 11, “We will not go to war with Russia in Ukraine. Direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War III, and we must fight to avoid it.” This is sound policy and there is no reason to doubt Biden’s sensitivity on this issue. Yet other presidents have made similar promises and then reneged on them.

Zelensky’s speech to Congress succeeded in inciting the United States and NATO into direct confrontation. So it appeared in an article written by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post in which she praised “Zelensky’s plea for the United States to end its procrastination and establish its international leadership” and for “shaky Western democracies to fulfill their obligations to other democratic nations. (although Ukraine is not a democracy). Washington Post columnist David Ignatius called for Russia to be “completely defeated” in the manner of Germany and Japan in World War II, leading to a “democratic reconstruction of Russia.”

Even before Zelensky’s speech, there was a mood in the US that members of Congress supported calls for radical plans, from regime change in Moscow to the assassination of President Vladimir Putin, that seemed to put pressure on Biden. to approve more aid to Ukraine. This pressure from Congress, the media and public opinion “implicitly” is increasing, to the point that the decision of the Biden administration to stay out of the conflict is weakening.

Defuse the crisis
Peggy Noonan wrote in the American “Wall Street Journal” that “Zelensky’s primary mission is to protect his country… To put it bluntly, it’s not bad for him if the war escalates, as long as escalation means giving Ukraine what you need.” But it is their allies who have to fear” the expansion of the conflict. It is time for Washington to take a step back to defuse the crisis in Ukraine before it is too late. This is probably the most serious international crisis since October 1962 when the former Soviet Union and the United States faced the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In Washington and (Europe), those calling for unlimited military support for kyiv assume that the Kremlin will remain indifferent while its soldiers are killed with weapons and ammunition from the US and NATO. This is a big and dangerous bet. The wisest policy for the United States is to de-escalate and seek a diplomatic solution.

direct hit
The writer believed that the Kremlin (and not only Putin) might not accept defeat in the Ukraine war. And the longer the war drags on, the more incentive Moscow has to go after the military supply lines that the US and NATO provide to Ukraine. This means a greater possibility of a direct military clash between the United States and NATO on the one hand, and Russia on the other.

And the longer the war drags on, the greater the political pressure on Biden to increase aid to Ukraine. Not only will weapons be shipped, but kyiv will continue to push for a no-fly zone and for the war against Ukraine to become a direct US-NATO military intervention.

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