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April 21, 2022

State of the War in Ukraine

The war hinges on the coming East Ukraine battle, which may indicate if this conflict will remain isolated or grow into a potential world war.

It’s now been seven weeks since Vladimir Putin ordered his army to invade Ukraine, and apart from massive bloodshed and destruction, there is little indication as to what the ultimate outcome of the war will be. What is clear is that the Ukrainian resolve to fight has been equal to that of Putin’s determination to take the country.

The fight has now moved to the eastern region of Ukraine, and Russian officials are claiming that taking the Donbas region was the primary goal the whole time. That’s a convenient way to excuse a poorly planned and implemented multi-front invasion, but now that the Russian army has shifted the lion’s share of its forces to the east, the world is beginning to witness what was originally expected from the Russian army.

The question many Americans may be asking is, why should this war matter to the U.S.? Outside of the obvious concern for the tragic loss of life due entirely to the narcissistic motives of an authoritarian kleptocrat, is there any good reason for American involvement?

Well, for everyone who doesn’t adhere to the ideological but impractical position of isolationism, there are a multitude of reasons for the U.S. to be involved in some way. The biggest reason is to prevent the war from escalating into World War III.

The fact that the focus of the fighting has moved primarily to the eastern region of Ukraine may be a good thing as far as NATO is concerned, though Russia continues to ratchet up its rhetoric against NATO countries assisting Ukraine. Is it merely rhetoric aimed as much as possible to dissuade the West from helping Ukraine, specifically in the provision of arms? That appears to be the most likely explanation, as any Russian attack on a NATO nation would immediately trigger Article 5 of the organization’s treaty, essentially igniting a world war. That’s a prospect Putin would likely want to avoid.

But is there another reason for the U.S. to support Ukraine? According to Pentagon estimates, the Russian military is down to roughly 75% of its fighting strength before the conflict began. Similar to U.S. actions during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. arming the Ukrainians effectively weakens one of our greatest geopolitical foes. And the longer the conflict drags on with little Russian advance, the more weakened Putin’s position becomes.

There is also the China element to consider. U.S. support for Ukraine, effectively helping to stymy Putin’s agenda, may also prove to at least slow down Beijing’s aggressiveness toward Taiwan. While Moscow and Beijing may have a partnership of sorts, China, unlike Russia, is much more concerned about its global economic relationships.

A drawn-out war may also serve to exacerbate economic pain in the U.S. and much of the West. The word “stagflation” has been bandied about as worries over growing inflation settling in for the long term spark talk of a late 1970s repeat. The course of the war over the coming days and weeks will likely help to answer whether it’s growing into a global conflict or whether it will remain isolated and regional.

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