VLADIMIR PUTIN'S BRUTAL military intervention into Ukraine, and the Ukrainian people’s courageous stand in defense of democracy, human rights, and human dignity, will go down as one of the most consequential events of the early 21st century. While we mourn the tragic loss of life and growing humanitarian crisis caused by Putin’s invasion, the global community has an opportunity to double down on its support for civil resisters and peacebuilders in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus while massively increasing investment in nonmilitary approaches to challenging war and tyranny around the world, including in the United States.
Sadly, I’m quite familiar with Putin’s authoritarian playbook. In 2001, I worked with a Russian human rights organization that focused on atrocities committed by Russian forces in Chechnya. At the U.S. State Department 11 years later, my work had turned to Syria when Putin backed the Assad regime in dropping barrel bombs and using chemical weapons against the Syrian people. Putin’s scorched-earth tactics and his willingness to target civilians are all too familiar, but no less despicable.