Today in the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, Ludovic Hood, a former advisor to former vice president Mike Pence, argues that NATO should deploy troops into Ukraine: “Western powers should insert heavily armored forces into pockets of western Ukraine, making clear that such deployments are at the invitation of the sovereign government, are designed to safeguard humanitarian operations, and won’t engage offensively with Russian forces.”
That proposal feels like a version of the “limited no-fly zone” proposal but with slower-moving and stationary NATO targets on the ground. If NATO forces move into Ukrainian territory, it is exceptionally likely that Russian forces will fire upon them. The Russian strike on the Yavoriv military training facility fifteen miles from the Polish border early Sunday was effectively a shot across NATO’s bow; not quite a strike upon NATO forces or territory, but a warning that Russia can and will hit targets as they come across the border. If NATO chooses to send troops onto Ukrainian soil, they must be ready to fight, whether or not they’ve pledged to not “engage offensively with Russian forces.”
But, as Joe Scarborough observed this morning, there is now a greater-than-zero chance that Russian forces will use biological or chemical weapons against Ukrainian targets, and then blame the Ukrainians. (Once again, Ukraine does not have a biological weapons program, but it does have dangerous pathogens stored in its biological research facilities.)
If you think the world is angry at Vladimir Putin now, wait until we see massacred civilians like in Ghouta, Syria or Halabja, Iraq. If that horrific scenario comes to pass, the Biden administration will face enormous pressure to “do something!” about a maniacal dictator willing to use horrific weapons against innocent civilians in a war of aggression. The options will be limited, as the U.S. has now sanctioned Russia in just about every way possible.
Then again, the U.S. does have tools that are in the gray area between economic sanctions and direct military action. U.S. Cyber Command has already demonstrated an ability to knock out the power in Moscow.