The US tried to keep Russia from invading. Why did it fail? The worldʼs leading media about the war on February 21

Anton Semyzhenko


Now the world actively notes the stability of European states and the USA in supporting Ukraine. Dozens of democratic countries are determined to provide Kyiv with increasingly powerful weapons and, at least for now, they are not going to stop. However, the way the US tried to avert this war does not stand up to criticism, Liam Collins, a researcher at the New America Research Center and Frank Sobchak, a researcher at the Institute of Modern Warfare at the West Point Academy, write in an article on Foreign Policy. Both authors are former military personnel. They assert that George W. Bushʼs response to Russiaʼs invasion of Georgia in 2008 was lackluster, as was Joe Bidenʼs support for Ukraine shortly before the full-scale invasion. If the steps of the American presidents were more decisive, Putin might not have decided on this desperate step. The success of a deterrence strategy is difficult to determine because it refers to the steps that are not taken. But one of its most effective approaches quickly becomes apparent ― it is to make the war for the adversary as difficult and expensive as possible in every sense, and the chances of ultimate victory illusory. As Thomas Schelling aptly put it in Weapons and Influence, "The power to hurt is bargaining power." Now Ukraineʼs allies in the war are doing just that ― they are raising the price of participation in hostilities for Russia. However, such steps should have been taken much earlier, write Collins and Sobchak. The article criticizes not only Bush Jr. and Biden: Obama, knowing about the criminal nature and intentions of Russia, tried to arrange a "reset" of relations. The annexation of Crimea nullified these efforts ― but still, such "reconciliation" with the Kremlin took place already after the war in Georgia. Putin got a reason to feel impunity. The authors count US aid to Ukraine after the war began in 2014: during his entire tenure, Obama provided $600 million in military aid to Kyiv, but it was never a lethal one. Finally, Trump began to use the topic of aid for blackmail, trying to obtain in this way compromising information on Joe Biden. So, in the end, aid came ― but not at all on such a scale as to frighten Putin. "The US ignored the ancient wisdom of the Latin phrase, ʼIf you want peace, prepare for war,ʼ instead hoping that half-steps and compromises would suffice. Now, they are forced to constantly raise stakes after the start of the war," the authors of the article conclude. Avoiding a full-scale war, they write, could be much cheaper in the end ― not to mention the loss of lives.