In some sense, the President’s instructions have been clear from the beginning: No U.S. boots on the ground; no supplying weapons for the purpose of attacking Russian territory; and avoid giving Putin grounds for nuclear escalation. In practice, however, it’s fallen to Sullivan and Biden’s other advisers to oversee a series of one-off decisions about which weapons systems to provide to keep Ukraine in the fight. “I don’t necessarily think that they went in thinking, Oh, we’re going to boil this frog slowly, because that’s the best way to avoid escalation,” Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former national-intelligence officer who worked on the Biden transition team for the N.S.C., said. “They stumbled into it.”
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