The stakes could not be higher. As Russia amasses tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s northern and eastern border fears are mounting that President Putin plans to invade the country and install a puppet government in Kyiv. In response the US has placed 8,500 troops on heightened alert to deploy to Europe in case of an attack. There are good grounds for alarm. Putin has argued that Ukraine is not a state and that the Russians and Ukrainians are one people. And he has form, having invaded Georgia in 2008 and annexed Crimea in 2014. Many experts believe that the West should beef up its support for Ukraine. Failure to act would not only put Poland and the Baltic states at risk, they contend, but would be a signal to China that it could invade Taiwan with impunity. The bully boys of geopolitics would prevail.
That’s the argument of the hawks in this debate. But others claim that the West should resist the neo-imperialist reflex to meddle in far-off conflicts. It’s all too easy to be led into a spiral of confrontation and war. Do we really want to find ourselves mired in another military intervention overseas that is likely to be as messy and inconclusive as our forays into Iraq and Afghanistan? Xi Jinping is no doubt watching events closely: what better time could there be for China to invade Taiwan than when the US is embroiled in a European conflict? Far better for the West to exercise restraint and focus on a diplomatic solution to the crisis – one that respects Russia’s historic and cultural ties to the region.
Which side is right? Join the debate on February 15, hear the arguments and decide for yourself.