Urged to provoke Russia and then left to its own, the West has made things much worse – and Ukraine will pay the price.

By Ryan Cooper, The Week

We might soon witness an honest-to-God war of conquest in Europe. Russia’s Vladimir Putin already chomped Crimea off Ukraine in 2014, and now it appears he’s hungry for the rest of the country.

If Putin does attack, a major reason will be the bungling diplomatic incompetence of the United States and its principal allies in Western Europe. Western nations have repeatedly raised Putin’s ire using Ukraine as a proxy but have refused to dedicate the money or military might to actually defend it.

Likely war between Russia and Ukraine

Western states’ behavior isn’t the sole factor here, of course. There’s the fact that Putin is basically a dictator and has a habit of using wars of aggression against weaker neighbors to boost his public profile (a short, successful war is a classic political sugar high). And there’s is the fact that Russia today is smaller than it was from the mid-17th century through 1991, and that much of Ukraine was included in both the old Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, leading to an apparently widely-shared belief among Russian nationalists that Ukraine is a rightful Russian possession.

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