Russia-Ukraine border crisis


AP

Russia’s invasion threat looms, and there have been no diplomatic breakthroughs yet.

As Russia stations tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border, worries of an invasion grow. Diplomatic talks between the US and its allies, Russia, and Ukraine have thus far produced no big breakthroughs.

Russia has denied that it has plans to invade, and few believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has fully made up his mind on what he wants to do. But it’s increasingly difficult to see a diplomatic path out.

Some of the big-ticket demands on Russia’s list are nonstarters with the US and its allies in the North American Treaty Organization, something Russia also probably knows. For example, Moscow wants guarantees that NATO would not expand eastward, including to Ukraine. Ukraine isn’t a member, and isn’t going to be anytime soon. Three decades ago, some of America’s most renowned foreign policy thinkers argued that NATO should be nowhere near Ukraine.

But Putin has also demanded a rolling back of troop deployment to some former Soviet states, which would turn back the clock decades on Europe’s security and geopolitical alignment. These demands are “a Russian attempt, not only to secure his interest in Ukraine, but essentially re-litigate the security architecture in Europe,” Michael Kofman, research director in the Russia studies program at CNA, a research and analysis organization in Arlington, Virginia, told Vox’s Jen Kirby.

In other words, this is about Ukraine. But it’s also about Russia’s own insecurities about its place in Europe and the world, and how Putin’s legacy is tied up in that.