“Putin wants us to make it a proxy war,” said Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser to two presidents at the Brookings Institution. Putin is still telling people outside of Europe that this is just a repetition of the Cold War, and there is nothing to look at here. This is not a proxy war. It is a seizure of colonial land.”
Michael A. McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia now at Stanford University, said there is a difference between covertly helping Ukrainian forces target Russian forces and showing off. “Yes, Putin knows that we are providing intelligence to Ukraine,” he said. But saying it out loud helps with his general narrative that Russia is fighting the United States and NATO in Ukraine, not just the Ukrainians. This does not serve our interests.”
Angela Stint, a former national intelligence officer on Russia and author of a book on U.S. relations with Mr. Putin, said excessive candor about what the United States is doing in Ukraine could undermine efforts to turn China, India and other countries against Russia. . “For global public opinion, it’s not a good idea,” she said. “They should do what they do, but not talk about it.”
Mr McFaul said he also believed he was undermining Ukrainians, making them appear dependent on Americans, a concern Mr Biden was said to share in his phone calls with security officials, which were his first Reported by Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.
But others said the administration has been too cautious in letting Russia set the rules for the conflict — or rather, Washington’s guess about what might push Russia to escalate. Nobody in Washington really knows what line should not be crossed with Mr. Putin, and instead the US has been simply making assumptions. “Shall we have a conversation with ourselves about red lines?” asked Frederick W. Kagan, a military researcher at the American Enterprise Institute. “Because I better think we are.”
The result, he added, was too slow to provide what Ukraine really needed. “They have done an amazingly good job of making things happen in a relatively timely manner,” Mr. Kagan said of the Biden administration. “But there seems to be a certain hindrance to the timing of our support driven by the kind of analysis and self-negotiation that is problematic.”
The legislation Biden signed into law on Monday reflects the historical echoes and repercussions of the current war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the original Lend-Lease Act in 1941 to help the British fend off Nazi aggressors in World War II, and it was later expanded to help other Allies—including the Soviet Union.
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