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Is American resolve equal to Putin’s brutality and lies?


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In Vladimir Putin, Americans are confronted not only with a brutal ex-spy with little regard for human life, but with a totally shameless liar.

It is about a leader who starts a war he insists is not a war, who bombs apartment buildings while claiming he is not targeting civilians. Putin rails against fictional neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian government, then defaces a Holocaust memorial while tearing down a TV tower.

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Even as the whole world watches the destruction of a country on videotape, Putin’s Canadian embassy insists that “the Russian army does not occupy Ukrainian territory and takes all measures to preserve life and the safety of civilians”. Additionally, the statement invokes the Nazi regime, accusing the West of “Goebbels-style propaganda”, “lies” and “fake news”. It doesn’t get more cheeky than that.

But what if Western sanctions – as well as corporate cuts from Apple to ExxonMobil – fail to stop Putin? In a line the New York Times called “ominous,” President Biden spoke in his State of the Union address about challenging NATO “in case Putin decides to keep moving. to the west”. What if he goes after the client states, Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan?

A photo shows the damage after Russian forces shelled Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on March 2, 2022.
(Getty Images)

Biden acknowledged that “our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine” – a ground war between nuclear powers has virtually no support – “but to defend our NATO allies”. Indeed, the whole point of the post-WWII alliance is that any attack on one member would trigger a common defense of all members.

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Whatever the reports of Putin’s mental stability, he is evidently isolated and increasingly frustrated by the fierce resistance to his advancing forces.

This means he could step up the air assault on Kiev and other major cities, trying to inflict enough human carnage to bring Ukraine to surrender or buy time for his soldiers to cut them off from the world. outside.

Is American resolve equal to Putin’s brutality and lies?

Putin says the United States and its allies ignored key Russian security demands.
(Associated Press)

What is mildly encouraging is the earthquake impact of Western sanctions, which have stifled Russia’s banking system and devastated its stock market. The combined impact of corporate America bailing out Russia, social media crackdowns and expulsions from sports leagues has reinforced the Kremlin’s sentiment as a pariah state.

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But that may not be enough yet.

Even if Russia can subjugate Ukraine, how does it occupy a country of this size that has shown a fierce will to defend itself? As the United States and the Soviet Union learned in Afghanistan, long-term intervention can be very costly in blood and money.

Is American resolve equal to Putin’s brutality and lies?

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. At left is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Associated Press)

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But all of this assumes that the West has the stamina to stick to full sanctions that will be painful for all parties, and not just in terms of rising energy prices. Right now, as was clear at the start of Biden’s speech to Congress, the civilized world is in a state of maximum shock and outrage at this unprovoked invasion. But will this fade over time as Ukrainian history loses its novelty and many people turn to everyday issues? Will the media keep the crisis front and center for weeks and months? The Western alliance’s ability to contain Vladimir Putin’s empire ambitions may depend on it.

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