A retired US general suggested on the sidelines of the Munich security conference last week that Russia could “invest” the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The general was not talking about financial investment; it returned to the meaning of the term to describe the siege of a city rather than its occupation, which had gone out of fashion once the Cold War was over.
Despite claims to the contrary, Putin is not irrational and goes wild. On the contrary, he is a man on the brink who has proven himself to be a brilliant tactician. He knows that his demand that NATO withdraw from Eastern Europe and his promise to ban Ukraine from joining the EU and NATO are unrealistic.
With the recognition of the breakaway Ukrainian republics, he demonstrated that he was not worried about American and European sanctions. Russia has amassed some $600 billion in reserves and reduced the amount of dollar trade to 50%.
As a result, Putin, so far, can consider his triggering and handling of the Ukraine crisis a success despite the condemnation of Russia by much of the world, as evidenced by the debate in the United Nations Security Council and the caution with which China has commented on the crisis.
Beyond sending a chilling message to the republics of the former Soviet Union, Putin exposed the weaknesses of the West at a time when liberal democracy is in crisis and under attack by illiberal and anti-democratic elements in both left and right, some of which profit from Russia. at least empathy.
Yes, Putin may have breathed new life into NATO and Western solidarity, but the United States and Europe have yet to prove they are up to the challenge. They haven’t developed an approach that recognizes the Russian leader is playing a long game despite seeing him as a tactician rather than a strategist.
The sanctions are unlikely to project the United States and Europe as capable of preventing Putin from establishing his new world order in the former Soviet Union or in countries where he could artificially create outposts of the Russian world by supporting Russian language education as it tries to do. do in the Central African Republic.