WASHINGTON — For years, U.S. officials have tiptoed around the question of how much military support to provide to Ukraine, for fear of provoking Russia.
Now, in what would be a major turnaround, senior Biden administration officials are warning that the United States could throw its weight behind a Ukrainian insurgency should President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia invade Ukraine.
How the United States, which just exited two decades of war in Afghanistan, might pivot to funding and supporting an insurgency from fighting one is still being worked out. But even a conversation about how far the United States would go to subvert Russian aims in the event of an invasion has revived the specter of a new Cold War and suddenly made real the prospect of the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict.
In Afghanistan, the United States showed itself to be dismal at fighting insurgencies. But when it comes to funding them, military experts say it is a different ballgame.
President Biden has not determined how the United States might arm insurgents in Ukraine who would conduct what would amount to a guerrilla war against Russian military occupation. Nor is it clear what Russia’s next move might be, or whether Mr. Putin intends to launch a cyberattack. On Friday, hackers brought down several Ukrainian government websites, after days of talks between Russia and the West about the crisis.
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