For the four months it took President Vladimir Putin to concentrate the Russian forces and firepower to launch what he thought would be a blitzkrieg into Ukraine, the world watched a train wreck in slow motion. Last-ditch efforts by the Biden administration to corral NATO allies into a unified response and disrupt Russian military planning through intel leaks ultimately came up short. On February 23, Russian forces began their full-scale invasion. The war—which has yet to yield the swift regime change in Kyiv that Putin envisioned—has left more than 400 Ukrainian civilians dead and displaced more than 1.7 million more in the two weeks since.
The Biden team also took up the Obama-era “pivot to Asia” in its earliest days in office, sometimes at the expense of military and diplomatic focus elsewhere. “As far as the Biden folks were concerned, it was all about China. The people who were brought into the administration … the strong voices, the strong bureaucratic players were the Indo-Pacific folks,” said Jim Townsend, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO, told The Dispatch. “We let our guard down in Europe and we didn’t take [Putin] seriously.”
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