Did Biden goad Putin into invading Ukraine?

As of today, thirty member countries constitute the NATO alliance.  Between 1999 and 2020, fourteen countries were admitted into NATO in the following order: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.  Much of that real estate borders Russia, and the U.S. is committed to defending those lands against Russian aggression.

Alliances can be powerful deterrents to war, but they can also be dangerous.  After Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, the Serbians agreed to a long, demeaning list of Austrian demands to avert war.  Nevertheless, the Austrians insisted on crushing Serbia without fear of drawing Russia to Serbia's defense, knowing that the Kaiser had sworn the equivalent of a Teutonic blood oath to defend Austria unconditionally,

On December 9, 2021, Reuters reported that in a 90-minute phone call, President Biden had assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Kyiv's bid to join the NATO military alliance was in its own hands.  Said Zelensky: "President Biden said very clearly that the decision on Ukraine's accession to NATO is the decision of the Ukrainian people only, this is a sovereign and independent Ukrainian state, he said ... and it depends on Ukraine and NATO members."

Surely Biden knew that admitting Ukraine into NATO was a red line for Putin that would trigger a military response, and surely Putin knew about the phone call if Reuters published an article about it.  Knowing we could not realistically prevent Russia from invading Ukraine if she was determined to do so, was it wise to give Zelensky those assurances just as Putin was massing troops on the border?

Last week, the New York Times reported that for the last three months, from December through February, U.S. intelligence officials had been sharing information about Russian troop movements with the Chinese, in an unsuccessful attempt to get China to dissuade Putin from invading Ukraine.  The intelligence given to the Chinese was passed on to the Russians, and wouldn't that harm rather than help the Ukrainians, whose interests we are presumably defending?

On the face of it, the behavior of the Biden administration makes it look as though Biden's people were baiting Putin into invading Ukraine.  But why?  Getting a stock villain to do so something villainous can help shift the focus of the administration's tanking poll numbers.  That's a high-risk motive if that's what it is.  Then you have the Green New Dealies, who are influential in the Democrat party and are ever impervious to political and economic damage.  They hate low oil and gas prices because they know that high oil and gas prices make their unpopular grand schemes more palatable to the masses.  Motive or not, it's a fact that the U.S. imported 12 million to 26 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per month from Russia in 2021, and we import more gasoline from Russia than from any other country: "In 2021, Russia accounted for 21% of all U.S. gasoline imports, with Canada second at 17%."  To compound those stats, Biden's cancelation of the Keystone Pipeline has deprived us of about 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada.

There's plenty of blame for this mess to be laid on Biden's lap.  Our military's readiness, effectiveness, and status in the world have certainly been degraded by Biden.  The whole world witnessed the humiliation of our withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Wherefore art those woke generals who howled that climate change is the number-one threat to our national security?  So far only John Kerry is dumb enough to publicly fret that the horror and stench of war are bad for the climate.

Putin has put Russia on some sort of Defcon nuclear alert and has said removing Russian banks from the SWIFT banking network would be an act of war.  An American/Russian cyber-war could be devastating to power grids, financial networks, and the energy sector.

As much as we may wish for the resistance of the Ukrainians and the sanctions from the U.S. and Europe to succeed, we can only hope that those actions don't result in a catastrophic escalation of events.  A bitter compromise agreement between Russia and Ukraine with which neither side is entirely happy may be the best result that can be achieved.

Image: Vitaliy Ragulin.

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