Mixed Messaging and the war in Ukraine

As a former student of international affairs and politics I am closely following the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine.  I am appalled to see innocent Ukrainians being killed and wish for Russia to leave this wonderful nation, however unlikely that may be.  My question is: why isn’t anyone stopping Russia?  At the conclusion of World War II, numerous countries gathered to form the United Nations hoping to maintain international peace and security in the future.  They didn’t want to see history repeat itself.  So why won’t these U.N. countries enter this war to protect Ukraine?  The main reason seems to be that Russia is threatening to use nuclear weapons against anyone who interferes with their “special operation” in Ukraine.  While I realize the significance of this threat, I still don’t understand why we can’t do more to end this bloodshed, especially when the western countries seem to be standing up to Putin in other ways.   

To give a little background here, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1991.  When Vladimir Putin became the president of Russia, he set his sights on resurrecting the Russian empire. With that in mind, he formulated a plan to acquire Ukraine and believed the Ukrainians would be happy to come back.  Instead, Ukraine was enjoying its sovereignty and expressed interest in joining N.A.T.O. (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). This idea angered Putin because he is threated by the west and doesn’t want another N.A.T.O. member in his backyard.  Therefore, on February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, shocking many countries around the world. 

At the beginning of this invasion, President Putin warned the world not to interfere with Russia’s affairs in Ukraine.  He threatened to use chemical and nuclear weapons if any nation imposed sanctions on his country, provided military aid to Ukrainians or gets directly involved in this war.  Despite his threats, world leaders responded with stiff sanctions on Russia and harsh words about Putin and his plans.  At the same time, these leaders refused to send troops to Ukraine. 

The U.S. and N.A.T.O. have said they aren’t sure where President Putin’s “red line” is in this war. In other words, they’re not sure how hard they can push him before he starts World War III. If that’s the case then why is President Biden calling Putin a “butcher” and “war criminal,” but won’t enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine like they asked.  I guess we can sling insults at Putin and impose economic sanctions on Russia, but we can’t get involved militarily.  My question is: if we’re so afraid of starting a nuclear war, then why do these world leaders consistently insult President Putin and take actions that directly contradict his wishes. 

President Biden isn’t the only one who is flexing his muscles at Russia.  The European leaders are doing the same thing.  For instance, they have imposed strict sanctions on Russia and are sending humanitarian and military aid to Ukrainians, but they won’t shoot down Russian aircraft who are bombing innocent civilians. 

There is a lot of mix messaging going on from both sides of this fight.  It seems like weekly we hear Putin threaten to use nukes on his opponents.  So far we haven’t found his “red line” in all of this, and Ukrainians are dying every day. Why not unite our forces around the world to defend a democracy that didn’t ask for any of this?

While I understand the hardships of any war and would never want to see President Putin use nuclear weapons on anyone, I still can’t digest the fact that the U.S. and other world leaders won’t use their military might to defeat the Russians and save Ukraine. How can so many countries stand by and watch an innocent democracy be obliterated for fear of starting another world war?  I thought we created the U.N. and N.A.T.O. to prevent such things from happening again.  The threat of a nuclear war with Russia is real and shouldn’t be taken lightly by any country, but does that mean from now on when any country threatens to use nuclear weapons we will just give them what they want?