Sticks And Carrots And Ukraine

The Biden Administration is doing what it can to deter an invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. But are the White House, State Department, NATO officials, and others concerned about ways to incentivize Russia not to invade?

Life is too short, too beautiful and too fragile, and in the end we all have many regrets about the mistakes we made, the unnecessary suffering we caused ourselves and others, the avoidable and deplorably tragic losses along the way, the various stupors that we lived stuck in for a moment, or a day, or years or decades stupors in which we had tunnel vision, lost sight of the big picture and the dearly precious things that we would only remember really mattered to us when it was too late, and let the best within ourselves and in the world around us slip away from us, locked in to some fateful and terrible myopia like when two parents are fighting with each other in vicious anger, yelling and screaming and throwing things, growling at each other like wild animals, forgetting in their fear and frozen state of fight or flight about every other good thing they know about themselves and each other, forgetting entirely that their scared, hurting children are even in the house with them, forgetting about their own children.

Some 14,000 people have died in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine over the last decade.

Today Western military intelligence sources say as many as 90,000 Russian Federation soldiers are massing near the border of Ukraine. During inner turmoil in 2014, Russia took the opportunity to invade and annex Crimea. So the U.S. and NATO are worried Russia is preparing to go “whole hog” and invade the entire country. But Russia denies the troop buildup and says it’s concerned about Western military intervention in Ukraine right up to Russia’s borders.

Last week in a two-hour-long phone call with Vladimir Putin, Biden made clear the U.S. will impose tough economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine. The Nord 2 Gas Pipeline is the balance to export oil directly from Russia to Germany. Those and other options that stop short of a hot war with Russia over Ukraine are big sticks, and one can be sure Biden spoke softly on the call so as not to poop accidentally, but where’s the carrot?

The golden carrot would be a long-term stable geopolitical understanding and arrangement that leaves both sides satisfied and amenable to continued global cooperation in commercial and humanitarian enterprises on easy, friendly terms. And one that allows Biden and Putin to look back on their legacies with utmost pride that their actions helped protect, safeguard, and liberate their fellow men, women, and children from all danger, wrath, and want.