Putin wants to build a new Soviet Union and he won’t stop with Ukraine

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America’s resolve is again being tested as we wait for Vladimir Putin to give the order to send Russian troops over Ukraine’s border.  

Should Russia invade Ukraine’s sovereignty, it will be the largest European ground war since World War II and should alarm all who stand for democracy and freedom.  
The idea that the United States should involve itself in yet another conflict after 20 years of war has understandably given many Americans pause.  


Many Americans don’t want to commit U.S. troops to defend Ukraine’s border – nor should we.  

But it is in our interests to provide all the necessary resources to our Ukrainian friends to defend their sovereignty from Russia’s authoritarian grip and raise the costs for Putin if he ultimately opts for war.  

I had the opportunity to visit with officials in Ukraine last month. They love America and cherish our partnership. In a world of evolving threats, we should be looking to secure alliances, not lose friends.  

Make no mistake: Putin is attempting to rebuild the Soviet Union in his own image, and he won’t stop with Ukraine.  
He believes the economic benefits of Ukraine’s industrial and agricultural sectors outweigh the repercussions of sanctions that will come if he invades Ukraine. The domestic propaganda that will come with occupying Ukraine will also be beneficial to his broader goals.  

Unfortunately, the Biden administration has promised tough responses rather than deterrence.  

In 2005, Putin declared to his country “It is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.” 

Putin is fixated on the idea that former Soviet Union satellite states like Ukraine are inherently Russian due to their former communist allegiances. While this isn’t true, it’s given Putin a mandate among his Moscow cronies to expand Russia’s reach across Europe.  
Unfortunately, the Biden administration has promised tough responses rather than deterrence, which has weakened our standing among the global community.  

Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with U.S. Javelin missiles during military exercises in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Jan. 12, 2022.
(Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Putin watched as Biden abandoned Americans and Afghan allies last summer – leaving tens of thousands behind to die at the Taliban’s hands and forgoing tens of billions of assets after 20 years of committing blood and treasure to the Global War on Terror.   
Many of President Biden’s foreign policy team served under the Obama administration and are the same officials that allowed Putin to invade Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 with little repercussions. Putin is again looking to capitalize on the weakness of this administration that prefers faux diplomacy and an apologetic attitude over projecting U.S. strength.  
Last year, Russian-linked hackers forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline, which halted nearly half of U.S. fuel supply on the East Coast and caused exhausting gas lines for millions of Americans. Rather than deliver punishment, the hackers were paid nearly $5 million.  

Then after being pressed by the German government last year, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on the Nordstream 2 Pipeline, which paved the way for Russia to deliver dirtier natural gas to Germany and create a new European energy dependence on Russia.  

It’s mind-blowing that the Biden administration would put German interests ahead of our national security while also giving vast economic leverage over to Putin on a silver platter.  
It is not in American interests to economically empower an authoritarian regime that has already shown a willingness to use entities to attack our energy grid and unleash other malign, disruptive behavior around the world.  

Under the Trump administration, we saw Russia held accountable when 300 Kremlin-linked mercenaries were delivered justice after attacking U.S. troops in Syria and the Nordstream 2 Pipeline was sanctioned. An expansive sanctions law to counter Russian influence in Europe, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, was also signed into law by President Trump.

Biden officials can learn from the successes of the last administration in deterring Putin.  
Rather than Biden promising to sanction Russia after it invades, impose crippling sanctions now to deter Putin. For sanctions to work, the largest economy in Europe needs to on board.  

Germany should be given a choice, if they don’t agree to implement sanctions now, we should impose secondary sanctions on German companies affiliated with Nordstream 2.  

Next, openly commit to supplying Ukraine resistance efforts should Russia ultimately decide to invade. Putin must know the costs will be high and bloody if he attempts to occupy Ukraine and install a puppet regime.  
Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union in his own image, and it’s imperative the West uses every means to prevent him from succeeding.