Our Views: Aggression in Ukraine

If the tensions between the United States and Russia have a Cold War feel to them, the reasons for this crisis appeared to be rooted in old-fashioned Russian nationalism: President Vladimir Putin wants Russia’s empire returned to it, after Ukraine and many others — oppressed for decades, if not centuries — broke away in the 1990s.

The United States, and the world, have a profound interest in ensuring that this new aggression is rolled back.

Even if the Russian seizure of the Crimean peninsula does not lead to serious bloodshed, and there is no guarantee of that, the precedent of a Putin-led invasion is something that is simply not compatible with the security of Europe and the world.

There is certainly an old touch to the Russian excuses: Putin today says he must protect Russians from “ultranationalist Ukrainians.”

This sounds like the excuses for aggression that came from Comrade Stalin as he expanded the Soviet Union’s evil empire in the previous century. If anything, Stalin’s lies were more credible than Putin’s, given the differing circumstances of those days and this. Ukraine did not inspire this crisis.

We commend the Western states that are rallying to oppose the Russian maneuver with economic sanctions. This is going to be a long game, but it need not be another case of decades for Ukraine and the West to push the Russian bear out.

If force is not required, stern and effective sanctions are clearly necessary. It is difficult to pull together the dozens of countries that will be needed to make an effective response, but if President Barack Obama will consult closely with Congress, we hope he will have the support of both parties in this crisis.

For it is that. If the Russian bear hungers for the territories of its neighbors, the peace of the world is endangered.