Published February 22, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine on Monday. He also effectively occupies Belarus. Western leaders, and especially President Biden, must face the music: They must mount a new Cold War.
Putin’s ambition has been nakedly obvious for years: He wants to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. He has patiently rebuilt Russia’s military into a smaller, modern fighting force. And he has moved nominally independent states within the old Soviet borders into de facto client states, using war and Russian troops invited as “peacekeepers” as tools to expand or maintain his country’s influence over the former U.S.S.R. Putin is even suspected to have ordered the poisoning of a popular pro-Western Ukrainian presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, during his 2004 campaign. (Russia has denied any involvement.)
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.