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History As It Happens

Feb 23, 2023

This is the second episode in a two-part series marking the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022.

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 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 liberal 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. Two years prior, Mr. Obama dismissed Russia as a “regional power” as it annexed Crimea. Fast forward to February, 2022. Days before Russia's invasion began, President Joseph R. Biden announced the U.S. would stand by Ukraine but not only for Ukraine’s sake. Democracy itself was at stake. In this episode, Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft discusses what to expect as the war enters its second year and the dangers inherent in the potential escalation of conflict.