There is already pressure to get involved if there is a full-scale invasion, but our history with proxy wars is littered with folly.

By Ted Galen Carpenter, Responsible Statecraft

The increasingly volatile situation involving Russia and Ukraine has the entire world on edge. Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the “independence” of two separatist regions in Ukraine, and especially his deployment of Russian “peacekeeping” troops to those regions, has dramatically escalated tensions. Although a full-scale invasion and occupation of Ukraine is not certain, even that scenario cannot be ruled out.

One point is clear though: the West’s proclaimed commitment to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity does not include U.S. or NATO military forces. Biden has confirmed that he “would not send American serviceman to fight in Ukraine” under any circumstances. Other NATO leaders have adopted similar positions of military restraint. Even if a larger invasion takes place, the West’s response likely will focus on imposing new, harsher economic sanctions on Moscow.

Ukrainian servicemen fire a 2A65 Msta-B howitzer during military exercises near the village of Divychky in Kiev region

U.S. and Western officials are grappling with the embarrassing fact that they oversold their backing for Kyiv and now face the reality that Putin has called their bluff with an invasion and occupation of at least some of Ukraine’s territory. Consequently, they are scrambling for an option that would go beyond merely implementing more economic sanctions — a move that might hurt the global economy as much as it would inflict pain on Russia. The current front-runner for a more robust response is a scheme to fund and arm Ukrainian fighters to mount a resistance to a Russian occupation. Indeed, there are news reports that CIA operatives already are busily training Ukrainian paramilitary units.

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