The American president had issued a stern warning to Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin: Keep your troops out of Ukraine, or face harsh economic reprisals.
The warning went unheeded. Two weeks after that call, from President Barack Obama, Russian special forces moved into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and, after a dubious local referendum, Mr. Putin claimed it as Russian territory.
That was March 2014. More than seven years later, President Biden is now the one threatening Mr. Putin with “severe consequences” should Russia send some of the tens of thousands of troops it has massed along Ukraine’s eastern border into the country.
Richard Fontaine, the chief executive of the nonpartisan Center for a New American Security, said the standoff amounted to a test of American credibility.
“If the United States says, ‘Don’t do this, you will regret it, there will be very serious costs,’ and the Russians do it anyway, it does raise questions about America’s ability to achieve outcomes, at least in the Russian immediate periphery,” he said.
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