We're opening up TNB tonight. Join us.
While Vladimir Putin may have invented the pretext for invading Ukraine, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Here at The Bulwark we’ve been writing about it for months with excellent analysis and commentary on foreign policy. If you haven’t followed it closely and are looking to get up to speed on the context under which this is happening, we have you covered.
But first…TONIGHT! Our pal Tom Nichols joins TNB to talk about Ukraine and Putin.
Ordinarily, this is where I tell you that TNB is exclusively for Bulwark+ members. Not tonight.
We’re going to give you a peek of what TNB is like with a simulcast livestream, because this is important, and Europe and the world are forever changed by what started last night. Come join us.
See you at 8 P.M. Eastern.
UKRAINE ANALYSIS FROM THE BULWARK
BENJAMIN PARKER: War in Europe Could Be Imminent. Here’s Everything You Need to Know.
IAN KELLY and DAVID J. KRAMER: Ukraine Isn't the Only Target of Putin's Aggression.
VLADISLAV DAVIDZON’s Dispatch from Kyiv: Fear, Frustration, and Fatalism.
We’ve also launched a foreign-policy focused podcast called Shield of the Republic with Prof. Eliot Cohen and Ambassador Eric Edelman. Here are two really thoughtful and relevant episodes:
And of course, covering the issues of the day every single weekday is Charlie Sykes with our flagship podcast. One must-listen episode is with David Priess, the Publisher of Lawfare, and a former CIA briefer, on Ukraine and Russian trolls.
IN TODAY’S BULWARK…
You can count on the OVERTIME newsletter to recap our coverage of the day, every weekday. Here’s what’s big on the homepage today:
Over the past 48 hours, Trump’s aberrant response to the Russian invasion has been deploying the type of rhetoric which has two obvious analogs in modern American history: the America-First Nazi apologists of the 1930s on the one hand and the America-Last, red Soviet apologists of the Cold War on the other.
But these two groups were outliers who, even if they had some sizable public support, were mostly kept away from the levers of power. Donald Trump was ostensibly the leader of the free world until a year ago and remains one party’s front-runner to return to that role a few years hence. Given that stature, his rhetoric is without precedent.
Let’s be clear about what happened: Ukraine is a NATO partner and an American ally. And as this free-nation came under attack, Trump took to his imitation Kremlin ballroom to praise Putin’s savvy. “Putin’s smart. I mean, he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions, I’d say that’s pretty smart . . . And i know [Putin] very well. I know him probably almost as well as I know anyone in this room.”
SHAY KHATIRI: The Ukraine Invasion and the Putin-Xi Partnership.
What binds Russia and China also divides them. They are neighbors, with a complicated shared history. The two regimes now in power would seem on paper to be ideological opposites: China is a Communist state with a twist of nationalism, while Russia is run by hypernationalists who used to be Communists. They are both former empires nostalgic for the past. Rewriting the current order unites them—but only to an extent. Insofar as they both long for dominance and hegemony in each other’s backyards, and are competing for monopolistic control over the same resources, the order they envision puts them at odds.
So the United States should pursue ways of exacerbating their divisions, in hopes of re-creating the Sino-Soviet split that fundamentally transformed the Cold War. If nothing else, U.S. attempts to exploit areas of Chinese-Russian disagreement could force the regimes to expend domestic political capital at home, lest they risk losing domestic support.
But more urgent than dividing autocracies is uniting the free world. Some commentators have suggested that Ukraine is just a distraction—that we should be focusing on China’s threat to Taiwan instead. But Ukraine is no more a distraction from Taiwan’s security than the security of Europe is a distraction from freedom in Asia. Those making that argument ought to have a word with the Taiwanese, Japanese, and Australians, all of whom are providing support for Ukraine and urging Americans to do more.
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