What Western governments have feared for weeks is now the stark reality. Putin did not circle Ukraine with 150,000 soldiers to negotiate from a good position. The heavy military deployment was aimed at something akin to the destruction of Ukraine as a free country.
The first was to recognize as independent states the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, along the Russian border, which control only a third of the territory they claim from the Donbas region. Then the approval of military aid to those “states & rdquor; to protect them from alleged Ukrainian attacks. And at dawn on Thursday the feared invasion began, but not only from the east, but also from the south, targeting Odessa and the Ukrainian outlet to the sea. And from the northern border with Belarus to go directly to Kiev, the capital. At noon on Thursday, a qualified observer feared that half the country would be controlled by Russia by the end of the day.
It is difficult to know what Putin intends, but it seems that the Russian president wants to behead the legitimate government, arresting him or causing him to flee Kiev, install a puppet administration and cause the exodus of the population from the capital and other cities. would be the punishment for wanting to stop being Russia and aspire to integrate into the Western world by joining NATO and the European Union.
The reason? Putin is an unrepentant nationalist who believes that the disappearance of the USSR was a great catastrophe. But he doesn’t think of it as a communist – which he isn’t despite having been the head of the KGB, the political police – but because long for great russia and he believes that Ukraine – he has written about it in a long article – is an inseparable part of Russia. As some Islamic fundamentalists claim Al Andalus and the Cordoba mosque. The difference is that Russia is a state with a large army and nuclear weapons.
Putin wants to control Ukraine or leave it half destroyed. And he also claims that the entry of the Baltic and other Eastern countries into NATO was a maneuver against Russian security. Some argue that he may have gone too far in the NATO enlargement. They may have their reasons, but the reality is that it was those countries – which had lived under the Russian yoke – that they asked for western protection.
And reviewing the alarmed declarations of Kaja Kallas, the Prime Minister of Estonia, whose mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were deported to the Soviet Union, it is clear that the Balts think that if they were not in NATO now they would suffer the same fate as Ukraine. And despite being in NATO they are not calm and Estonia asks for the activation of article 4 (support for a country that feels threatened).
Ukraine did not enter NATO in order not to offend Russia. Understandable calculation, but perhaps if it had entered, Putin would not have dared to invade it. Now The West is condemned to encourage Ukraine to resist, knowing that it will not be able to and that it will cost many lives. And to try to get Putin to back down with drastic economic measures of punishment that will also negatively affect European countries (gas price, inflation, worse economic expectations…)
And the most affected will be those – like Germany– who, believing in the stability of Europe, trusted more in relations with Russia. Putin has killed that hope. And worse, his pan-Russian annexationism over the Ukraine recalls Hitler’s pan-Germanic over Austria. The consolation is that Russia’s GDP is similar to Italy’s.