A Green Light For Russian Invasion in Ukraine, But Putin Won’t Take the Bait

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– 1 September 2014 –

Janus:

Janus-small“It is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia and the United States in this region,” said Barack Obama during a news conference after complaining about a much-hyped Russian invasion of Ukraine on August 27.

“It’s in the interests of Ukraine, Europe and Russia that the crisis should have a political, not a military solution,” said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s prospective foreign policy head.

With such assurances that the West will do nothing to stop him, it’s tempting to wonder why Putin hasn’t already invaded Ukraine in full force.

While there is no doubt that the West lacks the resolve to militarily support their sponsored government in Kiev, Putin is probably hesitent to draw his country into another potential Afghanistan. He might even smell a Western trap. Nevertheless, he boasts that the Russian army could take Kiev within two weeks, but history is riddled with such failed bluster.

Suppose that this simple invasion of Ukraine was bogged down.

After failing to quickly conquer Ukraine, Russia would expose itself as a fraud that can’t even project its power at its own doorstep, let alone the world stage. Right now, Russia is gaining international respect as a counterforce against the West, but this would evaporate overnight should the Russians flounder in Ukraine.

With Russia tangled in Ukraine, the West could feel free to topple the Assad regime in Syria even without political justification from the conveniently horrifying gnats of the Islamic State-ISIS(L). Pro-Russian governments in Belarus, Armenia, or Kazakhstan might face Western-backed color revolutions. Western-sponsored street protests like those of 2011 to 2013 could threaten Putin in Moscow with impunity, just as they were used to topple Ukraine last spring.

Even if Putin could conquer Ukraine in two weeks, he would be foolish to do so. The Western Ukrainians want no part of Russia, and he would face a Western-backed insurgency there for years. Russia can ill afford it.

At best, if easy victory is certain, Russia could limit its occupation to “Novorossiya” and avoid most of the insurgency.  But what would Russia gain by such a token invasion either economically, politically, or militarily?  Not enough to justify the risk.

Putin is too smart to gamble everything on an open invasion of Ukraine.

Instead, with essentially a green light from the West, Russia will probably step up military aid to the Eastern Ukrainian rebels, and it’s possible that the rebels could even gain some ground in the next few months (though this seems doubtful, considering the rebels’ lack of success so far). And the much ballyhooed Russian invasions might well continue and increase, assuming that they’re real to any extent.

And what does this mean for the people of Ukraine? With neither the East nor the West willing to make a strong commitment to their proxies, that poor country must endure a long, drawn-out war.

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2 Comments

  1. Seems like Putin gets Eastern Ukraine no matter what. It might be better politically for Ukraine to stay united and give Russia a physical buffer since they have political leverage due to the Russian population in the East. Taking Eastern Ukraine would add territory, but it seems like it has the potential to create a hostile country right on Russia’s border.

    The question is how far will the West go to stop any of this? Is there a chance for a NATO “policing action” in Ukraine’s future?

    Whatever happens Ukraine is screwed for a generation.

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    • Ukraine provided a decent buffer between East and West before the toppling of Yanukovych and Ukraine’s move towards the EU, though there was constant meddling by either side in Ukraine’s corrupt government.

      Frankly if NATO began a serious mobilization for a police action in Ukraine, Putin would just about have to preemptively launch a full invasion to thwart it. It’s one thing for Ukraine to move towards economic unity with the EU, but quite another for Ukraine to host NATO troops.

      But I don’t think NATO is going to do anything about this civil war beyond posturing, like this token 4,000 man rapid reaction force, and the continued arming/funding of Ukraine. The West is like a bossy, passive-aggressive woman, perfectly willing to use every trick in the book to push her agenda besides a direct physical fight on her part, and (as Vox Day has observed) she screams victim the moment someone tries to hold her feet to the fire.

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