Since early December, The U.S and its NATO allies have been working hard to deter a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, following a growing force of Russian military on the Ukrainian border.
“Things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now,” said President Biden to Russian President Vladimir Putin on a video conference on December 7th. Economic sanctions against Russia in 2014 failed to deter the invasion and subsequent occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea. Like then, the threats have fallen on deaf ears as Russia continues to increase their supply of weapons and troops near the Russo-Ukrainian border. It is estimated that they have over 120,000 troops including air and naval support. On the 7th, the U.S announced it had landed a small task force of Florida National Guardsmen to train Ukrainian troops as part of a joint training program. But some feel that the U.S is too focused on economic sanctions as punishment and not using them to stop the invasion outright.
“The U.S is definitely not doing enough”, commented Oles Spodin ‘24, a student of The Hun School of Princeton who lives in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv. He fears that “If Russia invades Ukraine, Europe will do nothing”.
Oles believes that the U.S needs to compensate for the lack of economic pressure from the European Union. One of the threats from Biden against Russia is the shut-down of key oil pipelines into Europe. This would weaken the Russian economy, which relies heavily on exporting oil and natural gas, greatly. But NATO allies in Europe have discouraged this due to the effect it would have on their own economies.
“If it happens, it is going to happen during winter, because this is when Russia sells a lot of oil to Europe,” Oles suspects. “This is when countries in Europe need the oil from Russia to heat their homes.”
Biden has made it very clear that he will not deploy U.S troops, in any fighting capacity, to Ukraine. With that decision comes limited options. Some lawmakers have recommended cutting Russia from all financial markets backed by the US Dollar. Others have recommended flooding Ukraine with weapons to scare Russia out of invasion. Whatever it is, it is clear fast action is vital.
Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, a member of a bipartisan delegation working closely with Ukraine, knows “we have an important window in the next few weeks to deter further Russian aggression from happening, everything from a limited incursion to including a full-scale invasion.”