Should Spain and the West do more in Ukraine?
January 25th, 2022

Newsletter: Is sending some more weapons to Kiev or troops to neighbouring countries going to be the right path if Putin invades?

Allied efforts to try to present a united, principled front on the Ukraine crisis appeared to waver today. European and NATO messaging attempted to calm growing apprehension. US, British, Australian and Canadian goverments made warnings about the situation or took steps with their embassies in Kiev that suggested a Russian attack was more imminent.

Borrell (EU) said it was about diplomacy. Solana (ex NATO) called for everyone to calm down a bit. Robles (Defence Minister, Spain) said that while this was all worrying it was not dramatic. Macron (France) and Scholz (Germany) spoke of the economic price Putin would have to pay after he invaded Ukraine. Afterwards. Ex post facto.

If President Biden's "minor incursion" slip at the press conference last week was interpreted as a green light for Putin to invade, today there were arguably two more. Stoltenberg (NATO) told CNN that NATO would not be sending combat troops to Ukraine. Psaki (White House) said: "There is no intention or interest or desire by the President to send troops to Ukraine".

The tone in Britain seems noticeably different. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey wrote in The Sun that "freedom is not free" and compared the situation to the German invasion of Poland in 1939 or the Korean War. Boris Johnson told parliament that Ukraine has a right to defend herself and that the war could be as nasty as Chechenya or Bosnia.

Pedro Sánchez announced after speaking to Stoltenberg on Sunday that Spain supports “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine", which in theory is more aligned with the British position. But no western leader in any country appears to be talking about defending Ukraine before Putin invades and does whatever it is he is about to do. The grand plan appears to be to send some more weapons to the Ukranians to help them defend themselves a bit more, but not to actually help out ourselves. Will that prove the right course over time? Even if Ukraine is not a NATO member, should liberal western democracies just stand by and watch Putin destoy her?

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