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We must return to diplomacy

War has returned to Europe after 75+ years. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has generated much debate across our nation about a whole bunch of topics. How should we respond to the ongoing crisis? Is this the end of the post Cold War era? What does this mean to democracy? Has the attack reunited Europe? How will this shape the West’s relations with China? What more can we do? What does the path to peace look like? How will this all conclude?

A recent Pew Research Center survey concluded earlier this month, points out wide partisan differences in views of the Biden administration’s handling of the crisis and the level of support we have provided to Ukraine thus far. Where the population agrees, however, is that this invasion by Russia is being seen as a major threat to US interests.

We clearly want a democratic and sovereign Ukraine back up on its feet. We want it to defend itself against Russian aggression – the US and its allies have already been marshalling logistics to deliver more advanced defensive weapons and military technology to Ukraine. The EU will likely also want to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas. Defending Ukraine while isolating Russia is clearly the right step forward.

But will that be enough? If Russia cannot find European buyers for its oil and gas, it’ll very quickly look towards Asia and beyond. Nations in Asia, Africa and LatAm have hesitated to fully oppose Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Nations including one that sits on one side of this Hyphenated American’s hyphen, India, have refused to even make a statement about the attack. As if they can afford to turn a blind eye towards their long-time ally, Russia. How can we build support among all these nations against Russia’s assault of Ukraine? What precedent does this invasion set for other nations like China – and their stance on the likes of Taiwan?

The solution to this crisis, in my views, lies in diplomacy. Our diplomatic efforts at preventing the Russia-Ukraine war failed. But we cannot give up. The stakes are way too high. The sanctions will help us negotiate from a position of strength. But we must also know when to be hawkish versus when to seize the chance and be more dovish in pursuit of goals that benefit America and its allies. Diplomacy is needed not just with Russia, but also to bring China, India and other G20 nations to condemn Russia. Putin has presented the world with near-impossible choices. We must lead the world in finding ways to de-escalate and prevent this from going the nuclear way.

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