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What Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for the global balance of power

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Russia has launched a barrage of air and missile strikes on Ukraine early Thursday and Ukrainian officials said that Russian troops have rolled into the country from the north, east and south. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Damaged radar arrays and other equipment is seen at Ukrainian military facility outside Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, provoking a ground war in Europe that is likely to test regional security alliances and agreements in ways not seen in decades. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to, among other things, “demilitarize” the ex-Soviet country, providing the pretext for what he called a “special military operation” that resulted in dozens of Ukrainian military and civilian casualties within the invasion’s first few hours. The implications of the multipronged invasion for Ukraine, an aspiring North American Treaty Organization (NATO) member nation, are immense. The attack also could reverberate beyond Eastern Europe and threaten the balance of power globally.

But exactly how the conflict will affect the prevailing “international liberal order” depends, precisely, on how the U.S. and its allies respond, Northeastern experts say. Although the subject of some debate, the international liberal order is a term used by academics, pundits, and political leaders to broadly characterize the set of rules, norms, and institutions around which the post-Cold War world is organized, which broadly favors multilateralism, liberal democratic ideals, and anti-authoritarianism.

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