Will he, or won’t he? This time last year, that was the question. Russian President Vladimir Putin had massed almost two hundred thousand troops on Ukraine’s borders. U.S. intelligence warned that Russia was preparing for all-out war. All the signs pointed to an assault, bar one: It seemed unthinkable.
True, Russia had attacked Ukraine in 2014, and in the spring of 2021 had staged a dress rehearsal for an invasion, building up forces on the frontier before sending them home. Putin seemed ever angrier at Kyiv’s refusal to bow to his will. He openly derided Ukrainian national identity and sovereignty. Still, it was shocking, when Russian forces did roll in, that a nuclear-armed power in 2022 would seek to conquer a neighbor in an act of unprovoked aggression.