A Ukrainian soldier, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, September 2022
Dmytro Smolienko / Reuters

By late August 2022, the West’s focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine was diminishing. The two sides were bogged down in an extended stalemate, freeing Western leaders from making difficult choices or thinking too hard about the future of the conflict. Events since early September—dramatic Ukrainian gains, followed by Russian mobilization, annexations, missile attacks on civilian areas, and nuclear threats—have shattered that illusion, pushing the war into a new and more dangerous phase.

Since the start of the war, the Biden administration has effectively maintained a balanced realpolitik approach: arming and funding Ukraine yet continuing to make

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