"Get off our front porch. Get out of our front yard. And stay out of our backyard."

This might stand as a crude summary of two draft security pacts Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov delivered last week as Russia's price for resolving the crisis created by those 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine's borders.

Ryabkov's demands appear to be a virtual ultimatum, designed to be rejected by the U.S. and NATO and provide Moscow with a pretext for an invasion and occupation of part or all of Ukraine.

Among the maximalist Russian demands:

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As President Joe Biden's poll numbers sank this fall, and the presidentially ambitious in his party began to stir, the White House put out the word.

Forget all that 2020 campaign chatter about Biden being a "transitional president." He intends to run and win a second term.

Well, perhaps. Yet, skepticism abounds.

First, if Biden ran in 2024 and won, his second term would extend to January 2029, when he would be 86 years old. He is already, at 79, the oldest president in history. Does Biden look like a signal-calling quarterback with seven years of playing days ahead of him?

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When did the political systems of 193 nations become the business of the government of the United States? And who elected us Americans to write the moral code for the regimes that rule other lands?

Consider: On taking office, President Joe Biden pledged to center his foreign policy "on the defense of democracy and the protection of human rights." At his Summit for Democracy, he said it was America's intent to undertake the bolstering of democracy and human rights worldwide.

Yet no nation bristles more than we Americans do when we discover foreign regimes meddling in our politics or presidential elections.

Why? Historically, Americans have collaborated not only with democracies but also with autocrats, dictators, monarchs and tyrants.

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One day after warning Russian President Vladimir Putin he would face "severe" economic sanctions, "like ones he's never seen," should Russia invade Ukraine, President Joe Biden assured Americans that sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine is "not on the table."

America is not going to fight Russia over Ukraine.

"The idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards," said Biden. "We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies," but "that obligation does not extend to ... Ukraine."

Anti-interventionists who have opposed bringing Ukraine into NATO may just have kept America out of a confrontation or war with Russia.

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Either the U.S. and NATO provide us with "legal guarantees" that Ukraine will never join NATO or become a base for weapons that can threaten Russia -- or we will go in and guarantee it ourselves.

This is the message Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending, backed by the 100,000 troops Russia has amassed on Ukraine's borders.

At the Kremlin last week, Putin drew his red line:

"The threat on our western borders is ... rising, as we have said multiple times. ... In our dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on developing concrete agreements prohibiting any further eastward expansion of NATO and the placement there of weapons systems in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory."

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