The White House initially refused to call it an invasion when Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized troops from Ukraine to cross the border into areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists. On Tuesday, key European allies joined the chorus to say Putin had crossed a redline.

“This is the beginning a Russian invasion in Ukraine,” President Joe Biden stated.

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was also explicit.

“We saw last evening that additional Russian troops moved in the Donbas into portions of Donetsk & Luhansk.,” he stated Tuesday. He was referring to two areas in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas controlled by Russian-backed separatists. “What we are seeing now is that a country already invading is being invaded again.”

However, not all invaders can be viewed equally.

Josep Borrell, European Union’s chief of foreign policy, was asked if Putin’s decision not to send in “peacekeepers”, amounts to an invasion. However, he said that it isn’t a full-fledged invasion. But, Russian troops are currently on Ukrainian soil.

The use of the term “invasion”, is crucial in this instance because it sets the stage to what Biden stated could become multiple waves economic sanctions in coordination with NATO allies, and other countries that view Putin’s aggression both as a violation and threat to European order.

Because Russia has ruled out any military action, sanctions are the main weapon of the West to push back.


This is an ominous picture that is not completely clear.

Putin said Monday that Russia had recognized the independence of rebel regions “in borders that existed at the time they declared” their independence in 2014. This is territory that the Ukrainian army holds. Putin issued another decree authorizing the use, which he called peacekeepers, in the region. However, Russian officials have not confirmed that troops crossed the border in the wake of the decree.

Separately, Putin was granted permission by Russian lawmakers to use the military overseas, raising concerns about a major invasion and possibly an operation to overthrow the Kyiv government.


Although it is difficult to view this as anything but an invasion, people can disagree over terminology. If Putin launches an offensive in full-scale to overthrow Kyiv, the disagreements will fade.

Biden stated that it is absurd to believe Putin made such extensive military preparations. He had more than 150,00 soldiers at the border, and moved blood supplies to these areas.

Biden stated, “Unless you are planning on starting a conflict, blood is not necessary.”

Mary Ellen O’Connell is a Notre Dame professor of law. She’s an expert in international law and the use force.

She stated that the “lawful response” is determined by the impact and scale of the incursion. “Use force to seize control of a country or to displace a government or military support is the worst form of violation.”


After Putin explained Monday his reasoning for recognising the independence of Donetsk, Luhansk regions, a White House official tipped-toed about the question of whether Putin’s actions were a military invasion.

According to the official, Russian troops have been operating in rebel-held areas since 2008 without admitting that they did so.

The official stated that Russia appears to be operating in openly in the region. We will be responding accordingly.


The question now is what extent Biden will respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although he stated publicly that he wouldn’t send U.S. forces into Ukraine, he said Tuesday that he had ordered the transfer of Europe-based U.S troops to three NATO member countries who are most at risk from a Russian attack: Estonia Latvia and Lithuania. These three Baltic states were annexed in World War II by Moscow and gained their independence following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Biden announced financial sanctions against Russian banks, oligarchs, and warned that more would be imposed if Putin expands his invasion.

The global reaction to Putin’s actions in Ukraine was swift and there has been little debate about its legality.

Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Moscow had moved from undert attempts to destabilize Ukraine into overt military action. “This is a grave escalation of Russia and a flagrant breach of international law.”


While Putin has not indicated that he plans to launch a war against NATO territory, the allied countries remain concerned. This is why the Biden administration sent 4,700 more troops to Poland and established a stronger military headquarters staff in Germany. It also moved 1,000 troops from Germany into Romania.

Stoltenberg stated that NATO allies have more then 100 jet planes on high-alert and more than 120 warships at sea, from the Arctic Circle to Mediterranean Sea.

Stoltenberg stated that “every indication is that Russia continues plan for a full scale attack on Ukraine.”