White House Can't Say What 'Victory in Ukraine' Looks Like

The Russo–Ukrainian war continues. Although Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has indicated an interest in negotiation, the Biden administration has escalated the fighting, most recently by permitting the use of American weapons to strike targets within Russia. Europe’s vocal war party is pushing for even more.

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The blame for starting the conflict falls squarely on Putin, who decided to invade his neighbor. Nevertheless, allied officials created the incendiary circumstances which led to the war. Indeed, Western leaders well understood that their aggressive policies after the Cold War made confrontation likely. 

For instance, in 2008 the George W. Bush administration pressed its allies to expand NATO to Georgia and Ukraine. National intelligence officer Fiona Hill, who later served on the Trump National Security Council staff, briefed Bush, predicting “that Mr. Putin would view steps to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO as a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action.” William Burns, Bush’s ambassador to Russia and President Joe Biden’s CIA director, sent a famous cable warning the administration that “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin).” Such a step would “create fertile soil for Russian meddling in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.”

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