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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Biden May Catch Putin in His Own Ukraine Trap

The West’s warnings about a Russian invasion of Ukraine have acquired a life of their own.

Who’s cornering whom?

Who’s cornering whom?

Photographer: Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via Getty Images Europe

The current conventional wisdom, echoed by U.S. President Joe Biden, among others, is that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin intends to re-invade Ukraine in the near future. Military experts who have weighed in on the matter — notably Rob Lee at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Michael Kofman of the Center for Naval Analyses — have speculated that the Russian military posture points to plans for a ground invasion toward Kyiv, meant to compel Ukraine toward a pro-Russian course or a change in government.

All these predictions are premised on the same foundation: the Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border. Why would they be there if Putin wasn’t planning some kind of assault?