The Russian invasion changes the West’s calculations about the cost of war

WASHINGTONShortly after the end of 20 years of war, President Joe Biden now believes that the United States is involved in the conflict in Ukraine, even without the introduction of American troops, which could have a greater impact on most Americans than Afghanistan or Iraq.

Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has cost the lives of more than 6,900 U.S. servicemen and more than 7,500 U.S. contractors, and U.S. spending has exceeded $ 2.3 trillion. But these wars had little effect on the daily lives of the vast majority of Americans. It was a 20-year period when people survived both the Great Recession and the longest-running economic expansion in the United States, the touchstones that were little affected by the two violent conflicts.

Now, five months after the end of the war in Afghanistan, the longest in U.S. history, Americans are entering a challenging area with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although Biden promises that there will be no American troops, he acknowledged that the war waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin could have a real impact on Americans’ pocket wallets.

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“A Russian dictator who invades a foreign country has costs all over the world,” Biden told Americans in his Address on the state of the Union Tuesday night.

The financial turmoil of the most significant military campaign in Europe since World War II is already being felt.

Last week saw Crude oil prices in the US jump by about 13% to about $ 113 a barrel, and the price of natural gas reached a record in Europe as the war sparked market fears about a supply shock.

Major stock market indices, which have been volatile for weeks, have led to further losses as French President Emmanuel Macron warned that “the worst is yet to come” after a lengthy telephone conversation with Putin on Thursday.

However, in Washington – as well as in European capitals – there are signs of growing determination to oppose Putin and a willingness to take on some economic pain in the process.

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This is a markedly different tone than after the 9/11 attacks that sparked the war in Afghanistan. Then-President George W. Bush called on Americans to “resist terror by returning to work” and urged Americans to “go down to Disney World” as his administration tried to restore faith in the US airline. Over the next 20 years, the U.S. military, including more than 52,000 wounded in combat, and their families will largely bear the brunt.

In Washington, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, California, in recent days ahead of the White House, demanding sanctions aimed directly at Russia’s energy sector, the source of life in Putin’s economy. The administration was reluctant to target Russian oil due to concerns that the move would also jeopardize the US economy and Western allies.

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“Ban it,” Pelosi said of Russian oil imports.

Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, introduced a bipartisan bill to do just that. Legislation would halt Russian oil imports to the United States by declaring a state of emergency, which Biden could also do on its own.

“If there was a poll and they said, ‘Joe, would you support 10 cents more a gallon for the people of Ukraine?’ … I would be happy, ”Manchin said.

Whether this view is widespread in the United States can significantly determine whether Biden’s popularity will resume after sinking to a grim level.

Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah, said sanctions against Russia could raise interest rates, slow the economy and raise inflation and gas prices. He suggested that Americans are willing to make sacrifices.

“It’s worth the expense,” Romney said. “Not far from the cost of blood, which can be involved if we allow (Putin) to flourish, but it’s not without casualties.”

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Public opinion polls suggest that Americans increasingly believe that the United States may have to do more to help Ukraine. In the days following Russia’s invasion, 45 percent of Americans said the United States was doing too little to help Ukraine. Another 37% said the U.S. is making the right amount; only 7% said the effort was too much, according to a Quinnipiac poll last week.

American politicians have shown greater determination about what lies ahead when Ukrainians have shown, in Biden’s words, “pure courage” in intense battles against Russian forces. There were also significant changes in European attitudes when the Russian military beat major Ukrainian cities.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was hastily imprisoned Nord Stream 2the $ 11 billion Russia-Germany gas pipeline was recently completed indefinitely after Russia’s invasion, overturning Germany’s previous position.

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The German government has also reversed its long-standing policy of not sending weapons to the conflict zone and has announced that it will send anti-tank weapons and weapons to Ukraine. The German government, one of several European countries lagging behind in NATO’s promises to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024, said it had about three times the defense budget in 2022.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck even called on his country to oppose Putin in a different way.

“If you want to hurt Putin a little, save energy,” he said

Even Hungary, whose pro-Russian strongman President Viktor Orban resisted speaking out against Russia on the eve of the war, condemned Russia’s military actionexpressed support for the sanctions and agreed to provide temporary protection to Ukrainian refugees entering Hungary.

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White House officials say European allies’ resolve has intensified after many expressed some apprehension about confronting the Russians. More than two months before the war, U.S. national security officials released persistent information that Putin intended a full-scale invasion.

But despite this, during talks with Biden’s national security team, some European allies seemed confident – even before Putin took action – that he would do something less than a complete invasion.

Talks about a moderate reaction quickly subsided – even among some of Europe’s most reluctant allies – as soon as it became clear that Putin had set his sights far beyond the disputed territories in eastern Ukraine.

Now that costs to Western economies are rising, the pain threshold of Biden and Allied leaders will be tested further. Asked about the administration’s confidence in unity as war costs rose, a White House spokesman tried to turn his attention back to Putin.

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“We are taking steps to defend democracy, to defend democracy against autocracy, to oppose the actions of a brutal dictator,” Psaki said. “It is because of his actions that we are in this circumstance.”

Edward Franz, a historian at the University of Indianapolis, said Biden was apparently heading for a foreign policy “sweet spot” after the chaotic end of the US war in Afghanistan. In the last days of that war, 13 US servicemen were killed as a result of a suicide attack while they were helping evacuate at Kabul airport.

As confusing and painful as the retreat was, Biden kept his campaign promise to end the war, which his three predecessors failed to do. It also allowed him to draw Washington’s attention more fully to what Biden sees as America’s central foreign policy issue: confronting the growth of China’s economic and military adversaries.

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“Instead, we went back to the Cold War,” Franz said. “If this is a long-term project – and it certainly seems so – the president now faces the task of selling to the Americans, why it is important for Ukraine to maintain some influence on our economy. It will not be easy. “

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Associated Press authors Lindsay Whitehurst of Salt Lake City, as well as Lisa Mascara, Hannah Fingerhat and Colin Long contributed to this report.

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