Weeks ago, before the initial storming of Crimea by shrouded Russian soldiers not wearing Russian insignia (required by International Law of soldiers from sovereign nations), I wrote on this blog about my fear that the megalomaniac, Vladimir Putin may encroach the Ukrainian borders. Days later, he did.
In a subsequent post I mentioned my fear that the apparent reprieve Ukraine had gotten from Putin’s aggression (after a belated and tepid response by the U.S. and global community) would be short-lived, possibly resulting in a partial or full Russian invasion. The reason I expressed this concern is because I have a deep-seated conviction that Vladimir Putin has profound angst over the embarrassment of the USSR’s demise at the end of the 20th Century. He absolutely loathes that Russia was embarrassed on the world stage and that the empire fell apart economically and politically due to a failed Marxist Communism. There are some who believe that Putin would like to see that empire restored under his rule.
Crimea has historically been bounced from captor to captor over the centuries due to its strategic importance. And after Crimea was given by Russia to Ukraine as a gift decades ago, Communist leaders were dumbfounded that it was no longer a part of Russia. Putin, a former KGB agent under the USSR, was one of those who was frustrated by the inexplicable loss of the Crimea, and he could not resist annexing it once he got the chance. The civil unrest in Kyiv due to the former Ukrainian President, Viktor F. Yanukovych, being deposed led him to call on Putin for help. Putin, offered Yanukovych political asylum and a potential return to power (as a Russian puppet government like those of old), and the hook was set. Days later, Russian troops rolled into Crimea.
Before long, the U.S. administration hobbled together a weak response in a paint-by-numbers foreign policy. As expected, Putin saw through it, having long before calculated America as an isolationist nation without the moral will nor the conviction to call his bluff. He knew that the U.S. would bluster about “being on the wrong side of history” and effectively do nothing. Check mate.
Now, weeks later, after a clumsy attempt at limited sanctions of a handful of Russian billionaires, Putin returns the favor by creating sanctions of his own against the US. Within two weeks, with nary a bullet fired, the entire Crimean region falls to Putin’s forces and the world’s cartographers get to work redefining geopolitical maps of Europe with a much-enlarged Russia. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to flounder and waffle, uncertain of its next move– with Russia not knowing, nor caring what that move might be. The U.S. has already told Vladimiar all that he needs to know– that the U.S. would remain pacifist in the situation and not provide support to a militarily-outmatched Ukraine in genuine danger of once again becoming a Russian imperialist state– the very thing the Ukrainian revolution escaped when the USSR fell.
In the last few hours we have learned that Russia has now lined up troops across Ukrainian borders in a number of areas. They have also boarded some Ukrainian naval vessels after severe military threats against those ships’ crews. What happens now is up for grabs, but one thing we know is that there is no compelling reason for Putin to stop his advance, since he now sees that no one will do anything, regardless of what unprovoked action he takes. At this point, he can literally ‘make up’ an excuse to invade even more of the Ukraine. At stake? 46 million currently free citizens of Ukraine, most of whom who want to be free.
Though the US has no appetite for military involvement, and though perhaps it should not be entertained– when you have the world’s greatest fighting force, that’s one thing you don’t take off the table– even if you aren’t planning to use it. The very presence of a strong military can evoke fear into an enemy and make them shrink from emboldened actions. But now, with our preemptive passivity, they know the most they’ll get from the U.S. is an earful and that’s simply not enough to stop a man whose delusions of grandeur are leading him to become a power-hungry glutton with an insatiable appetite for land and glory.