The seeds of Russia’s war against Ukraine were sown in 2013, when Moscow persuaded the country’s pro-Russian leader to reject an association agreement with the European Union, prompting massive protests that ultimately brought him down. Russia launched a full-scale land, sea, and air invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and sparked an escalating crisis that threatens global stability.
The United States is committed to supporting Ukraine “as long as it takes,” and has committed nearly forty billion dollars in security assistance, including nineteen billion for military aid. The Biden administration has also provided superior Ukrainian weapons, including air defense systems and top-tier battle tanks.
Despite all the suffering, Ukraine has not lost its sense of national unity. Ukraine’s leaders have a strong mandate to push for a negotiated settlement that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. In addition, the country has reformed its military to make it more independent of political control.
As for the occupied regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, many people there are not prepared to accept Russian occupation. Polls show that they overwhelmingly prefer a pro-Western political option, and voter behavior in regional elections has been driven by bread and butter concerns as well as hopes for resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The Kremlin appears to have underestimated the depth of this shift in Ukrainian identity. Its gamble that enough Ukrainians would accept reintegration into the Russian sphere of influence is a dangerous miscalculation.