Editors at National Review Online spell out President Biden’s Ukraine problem.

President Biden rounded out his first year in office inadvertently encouraging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

His now-infamous comment that the Western response to an invasion would depend on whether “it’s a minor incursion” was remarkably, disturbingly candid, demonstrating that Washington and the West could well tolerate a limited Russian attack. Biden also said another unstated assumption out loud: that there’s no transatlantic unity on how to respond to the Russian military buildup. Effectively, he telegraphed to the Kremlin that the U.S. response to an invasion will only be as strong as what its most reticent ally will permit.

The president’s comments laid bare the fundamental problems with this administration’s handling of the situation in Eastern Europe so far. Washington is hesitant to do anything that might be interpreted in Moscow as an escalation. The White House is yielding to German economic interests over Ukraine’s interest in maintaining its independence. It’s taken a Model U.N., kid-glove approach to dealing with a kleptocratic thug who has shown a penchant for invading the democracies bordering Russia. And it has actively lobbied against measures — such as a Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill proposed by Senator Ted Cruz — that would bolster U.S. deterrence.

Biden ascended to the presidency pledging to support U.S. allies and partners. And, to his credit, the administration’s strongest performance throughout this crisis has been the marathon of meetings and calls U.S. officials have conducted with foreign counterparts. But even then, Biden’s “minor incursion” comment prompted an embarrassing, public backlash from Ukrainian officials, with President Volodymyr Zelensky criticizing it on Twitter. Beyond the social-media foibles rests a more important diplomatic fact: For everything Biden and others have said about supporting Ukraine, the president has yet to even nominate an ambassador to the country.

And the consequences of that lackluster approach were on full display last week.