Inevitably, we have to return to talk about the situation in Ukraine, after confirming the Russian military intervention by land, sea and air. A military escalation that indicates that, after entering the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luganskthe intention of Vladimir Putin is, at least, to occupy the entire Donbas, including the port of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov. Predictably, the goal would be to close Ukraine’s outlet to the sea after reaching both the Crimean peninsula and Odessa.
It is inside of how predictable Russia Kyiv attack [ya ha habido bombardeos en el aeropuerto y algunos puntos de la infraestructura militar de la capital, y el Ejército ruso ha tomado el control del cercano Chernóbil] and other places in the south of the country up to the course of the Dnieper River, with more air strikes like the ones this Thursday or even a military occupation on the ground. In Vladimir Putin’s particular cost-benefit analysis, the cost to Russia will be the same whether its intervention is limited or ambitious.
Such a situation would leave Ukraine with about half of its internationally recognized territory, immersed in a political crisis that could take out the government of Volodymyr Zelenskyreplaced by another more likely to bow to the interests of Moscow.
Russia would achieve its goals: the annexation of eastern and southern Ukraine, “restoring” Greater Slavic Russia – which includes Belarus –; blind Ukraine’s possible entry into NATO, and prove the West’s inability to confront it. Putin is taking a decisive step in recovering the sphere of influence that the tsars coveted and that was embodied in the Soviet Union.
It has been demonstrated once again that, in the face of regimes willing to use military force without complexes to cover their interests and objectives, neither diplomacy nor non-military dissuasion are enough. And that economic asymmetry and industrial capacity –which does not allow Russia to sustain a war in the medium and long term– is not an obstacle when it comes to audacity and cynicism in the short term. The proof is that the sanctions that the West is currently implementing, being really costly for Russia, Putin and those around her, have not generated the withdrawal of the threat, not even detente.
And this despite the fact that the economic-financial sanctions have a very significant effect on key financial entities for Moscow, on which it relies to finance the internal and external projection of its power. In addition, personally affect Putin’s immediate entourage, including the oligarchs and their financial and economic supporters from abroad. The sanctions affect them and their families, preventing the flow of resources that they invest in London, Paris or New York, a flow that then reverts to Russia and, in particular, to Putin and his circle. In addition, Russia’s access to Western international markets is cut off and the start-up of Nord Stream 2, already decided by Germany before it was implemented by the United States, is paralyzed indefinitely.
Lastly, let’s see Relevant trade restrictions, especially in the technological fieldor –Russia is highly dependent on the West for certain vital supplies–. There would still be room to go further in the financial field, including an eventual expulsion of the SWIFT system, which allows financial flows in dollars and other currencies throughout the world.
Russia is ready for sanctions
They are not, therefore, trivial sanctions. However, Russia has prepared for it. It accumulates an enormous volume of reserves –on the order of 600,000 million dollars–has strengthened its commercial, technological and energy ties with China and other related countries, and relaxed its banking regulations to ensure its solvency, at least in the short term.
The sanctions are a double-edged sword, since they also affect Western interests, in particular those that affect trade in hydrocarbons, especially gas. In particular, to the most vulnerable EU Member States, including Germany.
However, there is a difference. While Russia is an autocracy with a growing totalitarian control of the population, Westerners are regimes of free public opinion and less inclined to assume the economic and social consequences -including the massive influx of refugees- derived from the sanctions and, in addition, nothing ready for a military confrontation.
The crisis has had the effect of a rshort-term strengthening of NATO and the Atlantic link. The military deployment in the most threatened countries bordering Russia, such as the Baltics, Poland and the Eastern Balkans, has been reinforced. Something that clearly goes against the Russian demand to return to the situation prior to the first expansion of NATO, and its attempt to weaken European and Atlantic cohesion. The West, however, sends a certain message of helplessness, which sends a very disturbing signal to China regarding its aspirations for Taiwan. China is being very cautious, striking a balance between its verbal support for Russia and its own long-term, mismatched interests.
Ultimately, we find that Russia wanted war from the beginning. His repeated statements that he did not want to invade Ukraine now show his manifest falsehood. The use of the usual pretexts – from protecting Russian or pro-Russian citizens to responding to non-existent provocations by a regime that qualifies as nothing less than pro-Nazi and genocidal – are a mere screen to carry out a previous design .
Russia wanted the war and is waging it, and its calculation of the West’s insufficient reaction is unfortunately correct. At least in the short term.