Putin is Going After Ukraine
Vladimir Putin has been going after Ukraine for a long time now. Last week he published an article summarizing the past 100 or so years. Putin has the obsession of Joseph Stalin in terms of bringing countries under Soviet possession. Putin writes incessantly about the need for Belarussians and Ukrainians to join the Russian people like they did earlier in the Cold War. They do have a common language, history and faith as he correctly notes. In fact, many in different parts all over the world would barely notice if he joined Russia with Belarus and Ukraine. The issue is that Western leaders do not want the entirety of Ukraine to be annexed by Russia.
In Mr. Putin’s view, Western powers have tried for centuries to separate them, but those efforts are doomed to fail. He argues that “the anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians” in Crimea, the Donbas and elsewhere. The Russian president believes that after centuries of common development and trade, the Ukrainian economy simply cannot flourish without close integration with Russia. Without his country, Ukraine will flounder, despite the occasional aid it receives from its Western paymasters, Mr. Putin writes. Putin will most likely attempt to join these two countries to Russia as president.
Across Europe there are situations that benefit Russia and its ambitions. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is nearly complete, and Germany will be using the gas for its industry and consumption. This pipeline will utilize Russian oil and gas while minimizing Ukraine’s role. Ukraine will not have a market to sell its oil like it did before the Nord Stream 2. The European Union has much infighting at the moment and is not capable of defending Ukraine against Russia. This was most obvious when Russia flawlessly took Crimea while the EU did nothing but sanctions.
So far, the West has not done a good job of standing up to Russia as it prepares to conquer sovereign countries in Europe. There is no coherent policy among NATO countries in stopping Russian aggression. The American-based world order is a joke to Putin. He does not fear the United States or the West. Russia is the biggest country in the world and has huge deposits of oil and other natural resources. No country has ever successfully taken it over with the biggest failures being Napoleon and Hitler. Climate change largely benefits Russia as its formerly frozen tundra will become prime real estate.
For these and many other reasons, Putin likely thinks that time is on his side. He is showing no plans to leave the presidency anytime soon. Ukraine is the poorest nation in Europe and is plagued with corruption and stagnation. Since it is not in the EU or NATO there is only so much that the West will be willing to do in the event of a Russian invasion to take the whole country. The United States is too busy at the moment with China and its aggression to devote all resources towards holding back Russia. Ukraine is often not considered one of the major security threats to the United States. The issue is that if Ukraine ever allies with Russia, where will Putin send the Russian military next? Will that be an NATO concern then?