This is the second episode in a two-part series marking the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The first episode featured interviews with The Washington Times’ Guy Taylor and Catholic University historian Michael Kimmage.
The war in Eastern Europe will determine whether Ukraine can maintain its sovereign independence achieved in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia’s war, started one year ago on the belief that its tanks would victoriously roll into Kyiv in days, is a direct war against Ukraine and an indirect conflict with the U.S., NATO and “the West.” Indeed, over the past year, it has become increasingly difficult to separate Ukraine’s interests from those of the U.S., as both rhetoric about maintaining the democratic world order and material assistance for Ukraine’s defense have flowed from Washington.
Barack Obama, in an interview with The Atlantic near the end of his presidency, envisioned a different set of priorities for U.S. foreign policy. Ukraine was a core Russian interest, not an American one, he cautioned. Thus, it would be foolish to threaten Russia with war when no one in Washington would actually follow through. Two years earlier, Mr. Obama dismissed Russia as a “regional power” as it annexed Crimea in 2014.
Fast forward to February 2022. Days before Russia would launch a massive invasion of its neighbor, President Biden made clear to the world that the U.S. would stand by Ukraine, but not only for Ukraine’s sake. Democracy itself was at stake.
In this episode of History As It Happens, Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a foreign policy think tank that opposes military interventionism, discusses what to expect as the war enters its second year and the dangers inherent in the potential escalation of conflict. Also in this episode, Washington Times national security and Pentagon correspondent Ben Wolfgang talks about his reporting on the simmering discontent on Russia’s nationalist right over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failures prosecuting the war.
Listen to the conversation by downloading this episode of History As It Happens.