Watching in horror Putin's unprovoked war against Ukraine's citizenry, I can't help but wonder what the U.S., NATO, and the E.U. can do in response to this crisis.
An interesting article in the Atlantic ("The Strategy That Can Defeat Putin", March 7th) provided three objectives to help liberate Ukraine, restore its democratic government, rebuild its economy, and ensure lasting independence.
If ending Putin's war will only occur with his overthrow (either through a coup by the elite, or a mass upheaval by the populace), then the three objectives to achieving this are: "vigorous and imaginative military support to Ukrainian regular and irregular forces; sanctions that will hobble the Russian economy; and construction of a militarily powerful European alliance that can secure the border with Russia as long as that country remains a menace."
The first is to continue arming Ukraine with advanced weapons at a faster pace. This will prolong the invasion and weaken Putin's position. Given the exceptional performance of Ukraine's forces, and the dismal performance of the Russian military, should Ukrainian cities fall, the prospect of recapturing lost cities by Ukrainian insurgents is considered very high. A force of "hundreds of thousands of armed men and women, a potential supply of thousands of foreign veterans, and a will to fight born of patriotism and anger, is virtually unconquerable if adequately armed."
The second is sanctions, which have already affected the Russian economy. The "purpose is to shake the polity and not just put pressure on it, to cripple the economy and not just squeeze it." Sanctions have been placed on Russian energy: oil and gas. Existing sanctions have already encouraged Western companies to stop doing business with Russia. And, sanctions will encourage other countries, like China, to do business with larger, thriving economies, and avoid economies that are failing.
And the third "lies in building an impregnable eastern glacis for NATO and, in particular, strengthening frontline allies and those leading the defense of the continent against Russia." Poland is key, and the U.S. can permanently station American forces in the Baltic states and Poland to deter any further Russian aggression and turn America, once again, into an arsenal of democracy.
Upon completing these objectives, it is likely that Putin's dictatorship will come to an end and Ukraine can be saved. At the very least it will reduce Putin's capability and appetite for aggression.