“Putin wants us to turn it into a proxy war,” said Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser to both presidents of the Brookings Institution. “Putin is still telling people outside Europe that it’s just a repeat of the Cold War and there’s nothing to see here. This is not a proxy war. This is a colonial land grab.”
There is a difference between secretly helping Ukrainian forces target Russian forces and promoting it, said Michael A. McFaul, now a former Stanford ambassador to Russia. “Yes, Putin knows that we are providing intelligence to Ukraine,” he said. “But speaking out helps him speak out publicly about Russia fighting the U.S. and NATO in Ukraine, not just Ukrainians. It’s not in our interest.”
Angela Stent, a former Russian state intelligence officer and author of a book on the U.S. relationship with Mr. Putin, said being too open about what the U.S. is doing in Ukraine could undermine China, India and other countries. Against Russia’s Efforts. “It’s not a good idea for global opinion,” she said. “They should do anything, but don’t talk about it.”
Mr. McFaul said he also believed it hurt Ukrainians by making them appear dependent on Americans, a concern that Mr. Biden is said to have shared in a call with his security officials, the first of its kind. Second-rate Times columnist Thomas Friedman reports.
But others say the administration has been too cautious about letting Russia set the rules for the conflict — or rather, Washington’s speculation about what would drive Russia to escalate. No one in Washington really knows the lines that shouldn’t be crossed with Mr Putin, instead the US is just making assumptions. “Are we talking to ourselves about red lines?” asked Frederick W. Kagan, a military scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Because I’d rather think we are.”
He added that it turned out to be too slow to deliver what Ukraine really needed. “They’ve done a really good job of getting things to happen in a relatively timely fashion,” Mr. Kagan said of the Biden administration. “But there does seem to be some sort of an issue with the timeliness of our support because of this drive of parsing and self-negotiation, which is an issue.”
The legislation Biden signed on Monday reflects historical echoes and reversals of the current war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the original Lend-Lease Act in 1941 to help Britain fend off Nazi invaders in World War II, and later expanded to help other Allies — including the Soviet Union.