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Andreas Kluth

The West Is Right to Deny Russia a ‘Sphere of Influence’

NATO, the U.S. and the EU can’t just hand Eastern Europe to Vladimir Putin as his fief. It’s not theirs to give.

Sphere vs. sphere.

Sphere vs. sphere.

Photographer: Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via Getty Images

We’ve been here countless times in history. Once again, diplomats representing great and antagonistic powers are meeting to decide the fate of nations not even sitting at the table. Some are hoping to prevent war. Others are betting that war, or the threat of it, is a fair price to secure their country’s “sphere of influence.”

Such a sphere — a geopolitical zone of control to the exclusion of rivals — is what Russian President Vladimir Putin yet again demanded in two draft treaties he published last month: One was addressed to the U.S., the other to NATO. Together these amount to blackmailing the entire “West” and mocking whatever remains of the rules-based international order. Grant me my fief, he’s saying, or I attack.