Anywhere you turn in Moscow, it’s easy to find members of the Russian elite who wonder why the West thinks that war in Ukraine is the Kremlin’s preferred course of action. Even if the Russian army managed to force Kyiv into a swift and humiliating defeat without too many casualties, the damage to Russia’s national interests would surely outweigh any potential military gains.
The problem is that the same logic was just as true eight years ago when the fateful decisions were made to annex Crimea and to stir conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region. The fact that Russia has been able to endure the international fallout for all these years helps to explain why the region finds itself again on the brink of war.
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