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The Editors

How the West Can Prevent a War in Ukraine

The U.S. and Europe should make clear that Russia will pay a heavy price for invading a sovereign state.

The West can do more to help Ukraine’s troops defend themselves. 

The West can do more to help Ukraine’s troops defend themselves. 

Photographer: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s deployment of tens of thousands of troops to its western border has stirred fears of a potential invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe should act to prevent this aggression by giving Ukraine the means to defend itself — and making clear to President Vladimir Putin the punishment Russia faces if he decides to start a war.

Putin’s desire to impose greater control over Ukraine, a country of more than 40 million, isn’t new. He annexed Crimea in 2014 and then backed armed separatists in eastern Ukraine, where a conflict has simmered since. Last April, Russia massed some 100,000 troops on the border but eventually withdrew in time for Putin’s first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden. Putin has lately resumed warnings over what Moscow sees as NATO’s creeping expansion. In July, he wrote a lengthy essay that expounded on the “historical unity” of Russians and Ukrainians, underlining the threat of the country being used as a “springboard” to pressure Russia.