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Hal Brands

A Losing and Desperate Putin Could Be Terrifying

Fighting for his life, the Russian leader could turn to nuclear or chemical weapons, attacks on NATO members or atrocities against Ukrainian civilians.

Getting riled. 

Getting riled. 

Photographer: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

The war in Ukraine is getting more dangerous, in part because it is going better than Ukraine’s supporters could have imagined. President Joe Biden has sought to reconcile two conflicting objectives: avoiding U.S. military intervention while also helping Ukraine and making Moscow pay a high price for aggression.

Yet as Russian President Vladimir Putin grows more desperate, that balance will become harder to strike. Potentially, the worse Russia does, the greater risks the U.S. and its European allies may face.