Former Ambassador to Russia: “The tragedy of this avoidable war would be inexcusable, including in the eyes of Putin’s own citizens.”

By Jon Huntsman Jr., Ernest J. Moniz, and Sam Nunn, The Hill

The Euro-Atlantic region is on the precipice of the most significant conflict in generations, with a menacing Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and Ukraine and NATO shoring up defenses in response. With Russian demands viewed as unrealistic by NATO, and NATO replies termed inadequate by Moscow, leaders are now — as Chairman Nikita Khrushchev warned President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis — in danger of pulling the knot of war so tight that they will not have the strength to untie it.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia: War in Ukraine is inexcusable.

Should Russia invade Ukraine, there will be only losers. First and foremost, Ukrainians will bear the brunt of Russia’s considerable military capability. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and President Biden and NATO allies have made clear that they support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity but will not put boots on the ground to defend Ukraine.

Russia itself will not escape both immediate and long-term pain. An invasion would undermine, not advance, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declared objectives of keeping NATO’s “strike weapons systems” and military infrastructure farther from Russia’s borders and stopping Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. A long and costly insurgency would meet any extended occupation of Ukraine. The promised Western sanctions on Russia’s financial system would hurt Russian citizens and leaders much more than the 2014 sanctions.

The West would not escape damage, either. Russia’s economy is much more integrated in the global economy than that of North Korea or Iran, for example; hence, sanctions could bite both ways. Risk to the global economic and energy supply system is real, particularly in the bumpy economic recovery from the pandemic.

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