How the United States is Projecting Power Through the Ukraine War with Russia

As the fog of the Cold War began to settle in, all eyes turned to Poland as a critical point in the balance of power between the Soviets and the West. At the time, the nation was recognized by Western democracies as an outpost of European civilization bordering the totalitarian Soviet regime. On the other hand, the Soviets viewed Poland as the route Germans used to invade their homeland. This served as a justification to neglect the Yalta Agreements and strike down the freedoms that the Polish citizens worked so hard to achieve. Ukraine has become a parallel to post-WWII Poland, which Washington is taking advantage of to solidify their strategic influence in the European region. There are multiple scenarios in which the war between Moscow and Kyiv will play out, but one thing is for certain; the United States is controlling the chaos to strengthen its leverage abroad.

French President Emanuel Macron

France is beginning to break away from the Truman Doctrine policy outlook of the White House, and build a new foundation for an independent power structure. Paris is attempting to lead its neighbors into a state of autonomy, threatening the United State’s hegemony in that area. Even though Washington has encouraged its NATO allies to contribute more to spending initiatives, that does not mean they want a self-sufficient Europe. The overarching strategy in the United State’s intervention campaign is to bleed Moscow dry of its resources through massive spending campaigns to support the underdog nation. Now that the Ukrainian military has become dependent on the U.S.’s systems, Biden is able to deter an aggressive dominance initiative.

Arms exportation has recently become a new frontier for emerging countries to gain more soft power throughout the globe. South Korea has made its role in the Arms Industry an area of key development within its new defensive policy, which has resulted in them cementing stronger relationships with Allies, in turn forestalling a threat from North Korea. Macron has done the same, making France the third largest exporter of arms in the world, just recently surpassing China. However, the United States has responded to Paris’s new arms expansion project by utilizing companies’ reliability like Boeing, to surpass new French weaponry. Germany, which France views as a key partner in their hegemony mission, still prefers to purchase American models contrary to the modern French ones.

There is no doubt that Ukraine’s progress throughout the war can be attributed to the U.S.’s foreign assistance. In the fiscal year of 2022, Biden has sent 50 billion USD, with 45.8% of that falling under the category of military aid. This has made Ukraine “the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It’s the first time a European country has held the top spot since the Harry S. Truman administration directed vast sums into rebuilding the continent through the Marshall Plan,” the Council of Foreign Relations reported. 

The United States has a defined strategy when engaging with geostrategic conflicts. In many cases like Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia, the White House has used three rationales to justify giving foreign aid. The most important and most applicable to the Ukraine struggle is to support foreign policy and national security. The Black Sea and France’s ambition are concerns of the United States, and therefore the Biden administration perceives Ukraine as the first spark that could potentially light a fire that would burn through their foreign policy agenda.

The Black Sea
Satellite Image of the Black Sea

Putin has always wanted to control the Black Sea for geostrategic reasons. The body of water connects its landlocked coastline with some of the busiest trade routes in the world, making it a high-value area. Turkish choke points in the Black Sea are crucial for powers to maximize their involvement in certain trade routes. In recent years, Turkey has become more friendly and reliant on Russia. In particular, energy has become the center of the modern Russo-Turkish relationship, giving Moscow more leverage when negotiating with Ankara. This includes access to the Marmara sea, which connects the Black Sea to the Aegean sea. Just like when Truman halted the Soviets in their offensive operation to control the body of water in the Cold War, Washington must again restrict Russia’s ability to monopolize the Black Sea. However, the ocean is important for the United States and for NATO. It is the key point Ukraine needs to control in order to have a successful counter-offensive in the south. Therefore, if the U.S. can send military aid in a successful attempt for Ukraine to regain and stabilize the coastline, then that will give Washington influence in that area and leverage on the NATO stage. 

The current war in Ukraine is not only a fight to preserve the liberty of the nation, but also an opportunity for the United States to omit its foreign policy. Chaotic situations can serve as a benchmark to gain leverage and influence if they can be controlled and undermined. Washington has a history of using this strategy and will continue to act on it as long as its interests prevail in the effort.

Jose Garcia
Jose Garcia
Undergraduate student at Boston College studying Political Science, Economics, and Spanish. I am a member of the Boston College Economics association and the Investment Banking Association. My focus in my academic interests is on International Relations with a concentration on the projection of soft and hard power within the dynamics of state-to-state relations.


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