War In Ukraine Provides Opportunity For America To Reclaim Global Leadership

War In Ukraine Provides Opportunity For America To Reclaim Global Leadership
The war in Ukraine, that began in February 2022 with Russia's full-scale invasion, has become a significant geopolitical challenge for the United States and its allies. The conflict poses grave hazards to regional stability, global order, economic prosperity, and the sovereignty and security of an essential partner in Eastern Europe.

Initially, the United States' response to the crisis centered on assisting Ukraine in defending itself against a larger and more powerful foe while avoiding a confrontation with Russia that could escalate into a nuclear conflict. President Biden stated on multiple occasions that he did not want this to become a contest between the United States and Russia, but it was the rather small matter of supporting a small democracy contending against an aggressive neighbor mounting an invasion.

As the war has dragged on for more than a year without any sign of a meaningful peace agreement or cessation of Russian atrocities, the United States and its allies have begun to communicate a new, longer term objective for the war - to defeat Russia so decisively on the battlefield that it will be deterred from launching another attack of this nature.

The objective of the United States is to render Russia incapable of invading a neighboring state. The United States believes that Ukraine can win the conflict with the proper equipment and support.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the United States has provided Ukraine with $3.7 billion in security aid, including long range artillery, anti-tank missiles, drones and ammunition. The United States has also imposed sanctions on Russia that are intended to prevent its military from developing and producing new weapons, and has worked to cut off its oil and gas revenues which fuel its military engine.

The conflict in Ukraine would be a strategic defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin, thereby weakening his country. Putin has lost in multiple ways, including alienating his people, isolating his nation from the international community, undermining his leadership’s credibility, and harming his economy.

The United States hopes that militarily and diplomatically weakening Russia will encourage Putin to pursue a negotiated settlement with Ukraine that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The United States also hopes that demonstrating its resolve and commitment to Ukraine will reassure its other allies in Europe and beyond that it will stand with them against Russian aggression.

Nonetheless, this transition in strategy poses significant risks and challenges for the United States and its allies. It increases the likelihood of further conflict between Russia and NATO, which could escalate out of control and lead to nuclear war. Determining Russia's red line and what action will push Vladimir Putin over the edge is challenging.

It also raises concerns about how long the United States and its allies can continue supporting Ukraine financially and politically. The conflict has caused economic hardship and human suffering for millions in Ukraine and beyond. Ukraine and Russia export wheat barley maize and cooking oil to African and Middle Eastern nations.

Last summer, Turkey and the United Nations brokered an agreement allowing Ukrainian grain to pass through Black Sea ports but Russia reportedly continues to impede shipments. Additionally, Russia is a significant producer of fertilizer and petroleum. Disruptions in the flow of these products exacerbate other supply chain and climate issues, driving up food and gas prices and causing shortages in places like Chad, Tunisia and Sri Lanka.

Sanctions and armament shipments may also have unintended consequences, such as further destabilization of an already fragile global economy or the emergence of new security threats posed by non-state actors and terrorists.

Moreover, it is still being determined whether weakening Russia will result in an enduring peace in Ukraine or a more cooperative relationship with Moscow. According to some analysts, even if it suffers a military defeat or economic catastrophe, Russia is unlikely to abandon its ambitions or interests in Eastern Europe or elsewhere. They warn that weakening Russia could backfire by reigniting nuclear proliferation concerns and regime change which plagued the post-Soviet era.

Consequently, as the United States shifts its approach towards Russia's war in Ukraine, it must balance its short term objectives with its long-term interests and assess the costs and benefits of its actions. The Ukraine conflict tests American leadership's credibility wisdom, and prudence. The United States will also need to engage constructively with other stakeholders, such as China, Turkey and Iran, who influence Russia or have interests of their own in the region and could likely play a role in resolving the conflict.

The war in Ukraine is a threat to Ukraine’s security and sovereignty, and a challenge to the global order and stability. The United States, as a leader of the free world, and a guarantor of peace and security has a responsibility and an opportunity to shape the outcome of this crisis in a way that serves its values and interests and those of its allies and partners. The Unites States' shift in approach to Russia’s war in Ukraine is not a sign of weakness or retreat, but rather a reflection of pragmatism and realism. It is also a test of leadership and vision for the future of Europe and beyond.