Within the next couple of months it is likely that there will be direct US military involvement in Ukraine, with Russia now openly supporting and recognizing separatist groups in the Donbass region on the eastern edge of the country and apparently moving to aid them militarily in separation. This is not the first time Russia has sent military units into Ukraine, but it is the first time since 2014 and the annexation of Crimea that the threat of military action has been overt rather than covert.
When conflict erupts, you are going to see a swarm of media stories in Western nations trying to outline the complexity of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union, while ignoring certain inconvenient truths. You will see many of these stories construct a narrative which then oversimplifies the situation and paints Russia as the monstrous aggressor. The goal will be to convince the public that our involvement in Ukraine is a moral and geopolitical necessity. There will be attempts to gain American favor and a call for US boots on the ground. Joe Biden will be at the forefront of this push.
The surface trigger for the confrontation is obviously rooted in the 2009 decision by Western powers and Ukrainian officials to consider the country for membership in NATO. Most of Russia’s actions when dealing with Ukraine can be owed to NATO involvement in the region, including the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. Strategically, it makes sense. Imagine if Mexico suddenly announced it was joining a military alliance with China and that Chinese military assets were going to be transferred near the US southern border? It probably would not end well.
To be sure, Russia has a history of hypocritical behavior when it comes to its involvement in the affairs of its neighbors. For example, only a few months ago, Kazakhstan was facing mass protests which the government claimed were caused by “foreign manipulation.” Zero proof was presented to justify this assertion. However, the claim was enough to rationalize the deployment of 2300 Russian troops over the border to shut down the protests.