As the tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to escalate, USA TODAY Opinion recently met with retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who oversaw all NATO forces in Europe as the Supreme Allied Commander.
Clark explained why the situation is important to Americans and ways the Biden administration and NATO allies can deter Russian aggression. He said Russia wants to establish dominance over regions it once held during the Soviet Union.
You can see a video with excerpts from his remarks above this story.
"What Russia wants to do is use its military to play power politics and crush independent states, take them over and make them vassal states, make them satellite states," Clark said.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said at a news conference that Russia would face "severe economic consequences" if it proceeded with an invasion of Ukraine.
The White House later issued a statement clarifying the president's comments.
"President Biden has been clear with the Russian president: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that's a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe and united response from the United States and our allies," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Clark said steps can be taken to prevent Russia from engaging in hostilities: "The United States needs to go to the United Nations now, lay out the evidence and get the will of the nations of the world to stop this threat of Russian aggression."
"International law is a very powerful force even though we don't think about it much in the United States," the retired general said. "In Europe it's extremely respected, and it will have an enormous impact in strengthening alliance cohesion and deterring Russian action."
Commentary editor Austin Bogues is a member of USA TODAY's Editorial Board. Follow him on Twitter: @AustinBogues
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: As Russia threatens Ukraine, what Biden can do: Gen. Wesley Clark