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Putin’s “Nightmare” Threat to Europe

Russian troops
Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
December 6, 2021

Ukraine’s national anthem is called “Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished,” which, considering recent Ukrainian history, is both apt and brave, like a country stubbornly and continually willing its existence into existence. It’s also a useful summary of what’s happening on the border between Ukraine and Russia, where Russian troops and materiel continue to accumulate as the Russian propaganda machine kicks into full, anti-Ukrainian gear, much to the alarm of Washington and Ukraine.

Since I last wrote about the situation, Russia still hasn’t reinvaded Ukraine (thankfully), and we still don’t know if it will, but it’s ratcheting up tensions every day. Now President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are stating openly what, until now, they’ve been communicating mostly behind the scenes: Russia wants a guarantee by the West that Ukraine will never join NATO. But this is not the West’s to give. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has reiterated, that is a decision that can only be made by the country seeking to join NATO and the alliance’s 30 member states.