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Putin Signals a Dark Endgame at Great Risk for Ukraine and Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin, posing one of the biggest security threats to Europe since World War II, is staking his legacy on an irredentist invasion of Ukraine that poses significant risks to his own country and raises worrisome questions about his ambitions to bring Kyiv to heel.

Putin's defiant decision to use full-fledged military force represents an unprecedented level of risk-taking for the Russian leader and threatens to isolate his country even further from the West and its allies. Punishments being leveled by Western nations could land Washington in an escalatory cycle with Moscow, if Russia responds to the measures in kind.

The attack also carries a direct challenge to the post-Cold War global order. Putin’s sweeping ambition involves hammering out a new international balance, setting the scene for a club of powerful nuclear powers to dominate smaller states and carve out spheres of influence — by force if they see fit.

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