Recently President Joe Biden remarked that the US has no legal obligation to defend Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion. This may or may-not be true. In 1994 the US along with Russia and the UK signed what is known as “The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.” In this memorandum the signatories spelled out that the territorial integrity as well as political independence of Ukraine was guaranteed. These assurances were tested in 2014 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, support to rebel forces and annexation of Crimea, and were found wanting.
The agreement is not a Treaty, it provisions are void of any legal provisions. Following the Russian invasion the Obama administration did very little more then raise diplomatic concerns. The Trump administration increased support to Kyiv through the transferal of Javelin anti-tank missiles and other military equipment. While fighting continues in the heavily Russian region known as Donbas the world ahs lost interest, until now.
Today few in the west believe there can be a new Pan-European war, however history tells us otherwise. Russia has been testing western resolve for years not only in Ukraine but in Georgia and by pushing the cyber envelope. The west has become complacent in its ways and more concentrated on its ideological differences. Russia on the other hand has been busy laying the groundwork for a new Russian empire. Putin himself declared the fall of the Soviet Union a mistake.
How long can we ignore Russian and Chinese aggression before we realize it is to late. Had we called Hitler prior to the Sudetenland debacle. Had we faced up to Japanize actions in China and elsewhere, would history be different or a little less bloody. Had we stood up to despots in the past would we have learned. Can we stop Putin by publicly threatening him with economic sanctions? The clear answer is no. Sanctions have almost never worked on any country and they certainly will not work on Russian leadership.
The Fact is by calling Putin out like Biden did it is more likely Russia will invade Ukraine. While militarily strong the west has shown no true desire or will to use that military. Activity in the Middle East never raised to the level that would impress Putin or his generals. The exact opposite is true, what we have shown is, pushed hard and we leave.
We may learn from the cold war days, the Berlin Brigade was out in place as a trip wire. Could the same thing work in Ukraine? A small contingent of US forces placed on the ground opposite of the Russian forces would mean to invade would require a direct confrontation with the US and NATO. It might if Putin can be convinced that the West would respond militarily. Unfortunately, that is a big if.