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After a confusing month, it is now clear what strategies are playing out in Ukraine: We’re watching Vladimir Putin’s plan B versus Joe Biden’s and Volodymyr Zelensky’s plans A. Let us hope that Biden and Zelensky triumph, because Putin’s potential plan C is really scary — and I don’t even want to write what I fear would be his plan D.
What’s needed is a security architecture for a world the United States doesn’t pretend to police — limiting, not intensifying, great power conflict. That would include a revival of arms control, new agreements on limits of force, emphasis on areas such as climate change and pandemics where global cooperation — and particularly cooperation with China — is essential.
Shelling is destroying buildings and art, while archivists scan documents around the clock for fear of Russian ‘archivocide’
The calamity that has taken place has been, then, an intellectual calamity first of all. It is a monstrous failure of the Russian imagination. And the monstrous failure has brought about the very collapse into barbarism and the danger to the ever-fragile Russian state that Putin thought he was trying to avoid.
The U.S.-led coalition of liberal-democratic states should pursue three objectives. Vigorous and imaginative military support to Ukrainian regular and irregular forces; sanctions that will hobble the Russian economy; and construction of a militarily powerful European alliance.
It is no longer enough to express warm platitudes about the rules-based international order. We are going to have to actively defend it against a sustained attempt to rewrite the rules by force and other tools, such as economic coercion.
If the Russians are ever to withdraw, then a diplomatic agreement on the terms of withdrawal will be necessary. So what should the demands be?
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