With 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, Vladimir Putin (whatever his title) is playing a very dangerous game. Putin wants the Ukraine. His Russia is not enough for him. Like any power-hungry autocrat, the largest country on the globe is not enough. Putin doesn’t want to “liberate” Ukraine; he wants to enslave it, although he will put any conflict in terms of a “liberation.” He will also explain any conflict as being Ukraine started by the Ukraine, even though the Ukraine has no interest in attacking Russia.
The Ukraine knows too well what being a “satellite” of Russia is like, just like Poland, Hungary, and many other “satellite” nations. The Ukraine greeted Hitler’s army as liberators for them from Stalin, but that cheerful greeting was quickly turned into hatred as Hitler was just as bad, or even worse than Stalin. Stalin starved the Ukrainians, when they had the resources to feed themselves, but the starvation is well documented, in spite of many people claiming it never happened, the same people who tend to deny the Holocaust. Hitler wanted the Ukraine (other than it was a gateway to the then U.S.S.R.) for the assets it had, including valuable minerals and vast agricultural resources; Putin has the same desires.
Putin has walked up to the border of Ukraine, taken off his shirt and is pounding his chest. He wants “concessions” regarding NATO (Ukraine started the process of joining NATO in 2010, and then withdrew) such as Ukraine never being allowed to join NATO. Putin wants to conquer Ukraine, and doesn’t want NATO involved, which is every reason to want Ukraine to join NATO.
In case no one remembers why NATO was organized, it was created because Stalin’s Red Army never retreated back to the U.S.S.R., it kept every inch of turf it took driving back Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Stalin created “satellite” countries, installing communist regimes in Poland, East Germany, the Baltics, and other European countries. As Winston Churchill described Post-WWII Europe, “an Iron Curtain has descended upon Europe.” The countries of the “Warsaw Pact” spun out of the Russian orbit when the Soviet Empire fell apart. In post-Soviet Eastern Europe, many of the former U.S.S.R. “satellites” looked towards the West, in terms of capitalist free-market economies and democracy, both antithetical to the still-prevalent Soviet mentality.
With 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, Vladimir Putin is playing a very dangerous game.
The Russian military could obviously defeat the Ukrainian military, but considerable losses could be punishing for Putin, who will obviously have to make any conflict as initiated by Ukraine, and/or a “conflict of liberation.” Ask Poland or Hungary about being liberated by Russia. But keep in mind that France under Napoleon and Germany under Hitler were both defeated not as much by the Russian army but by the Russian winter, and tiny but well-armed Finland held off the Russian army in the Winter War of 1939. The U.S. and Europe cannot make any concessions in this situation, because to do so will only feed Putin’s appetite for more territory, more wealth, and more resources to pilfer for his treasury.
If this situation looks like a repeat of a Cold War scenario, Vladimir Putin would prefer you stay quiet, and if you are a Russian citizen, that preference can be brutally enforced. Cold Warrior Richard Nixon’s advice is needed now, as much as ever. As Nixon said in The Real War: “Never allow your adversary to underestimate what you would do in response to a challenge. Never tell him in advance what you would not do.”
Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary