December 24, 2021 — As Russian troops mass along the border with Ukraine, the White House has been calibrating its response. President Joe Biden has warned that in the event of an invasion, the US and allies would make Russian President Vladimir Putin pay a heavy price. Likely measures would particularly include economic sanctions such as a cut-off from the SWIFT payments system and turning off the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Good. It is possible that such threats will deter Putin.
Biden has also said that he would not send military personnel. Also, good, given that a threat to intervene militarily would be a bluff. Americans and Europeans are not in fact prepared to send troops to Ukraine. Even though the Russian invasion of a sovereign European country is a terrible thing, reminiscent of 1939, all perceive that Putin feels his country’s interests to be at stake in Ukraine more than Americans do.