Monday afternoon, NBC’s Richard Engel tweeted the following from Kyiv.
Perhaps the biggest risk-calculation/moral dilemma of the war so far. A massive Russian convoy is abt 30 miles from Kyiv. The US/NATO could likely destroy it. But that would be direct involvement against Russia and risk, everything. Does the West watch in silence as it rolls?
Perhaps it’s time for all of us to take a breath. Sadly, outside of sending weapons to the Ukrainian forces so they can stop this convoy, there’s nothing The West can do about it. The idea of direct military engagement between U.S./NATO forces and the Russian army is an escalatory prospect that should terrify even the staunchest American supporter of the Ukrainian cause. And that goes for “close air support” and “no-fly zones” as well. That, too, would involve NATO forces in combat with Russian forces, and that’s how cold wars heat up very quickly. It’s hard to imagine Congress swinging for this anyway, Adam Kinzinger notwithstanding.
The West is doing everything it can. It may not be doing enough of everything it can, but it has crippled the Russian economy, supplied the Ukrainian army, and galvanized the world against the Russian invasion. It has exposed Vladimir Putin to worldwide condemnation and to ridicule at home. Parts of his army appear to be near mutiny. The oligarchs are very nervous. Even the Swiss have locked up their money. That is not watching in silence. The only catastrophic blunder the West could make right now would be to get into a shooting war with the Russians. The president has made all the right moves so far. Some of them arguably late. But calls from the media, noisy ex-generals, and the political elite do not seem to move him, which in this case is the best argument for his presidency that comes immediately to mind. Nuclear war remains a pretty bad idea.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.