Attack Ukraine: Split NATO?
Russian President Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his dream of restoring Russia to its pre-1905 borders which, by the way, included Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Crimea, and Georgia. While it is not likely that Putin can take back Finland or Poland (a NATO member), Putin has made some progress toward his goal by taking back two provinces of Georgia in 2009, all of Crimea in 2014, and, as of this writing, some major parts of Ukraine. President Putinís other big goal is to make Western Europe dependent on Russian oil and natural gas.
As for Putinís invasion of Ukraine, the big question is: Why would Putin commit a major portion of his military that is already stretched thin to cover a Russia that spans 11 time zones to achieve an objective that Putin could, in all probability, attain eventually by using diplomacy and the power of Putinís vast oil and natural gas reserves?
Given that Red China has the means and motive (shortage of child-bearing females) to invade Russian Siberia, President Putin would be well-advised to give more attention to Russiaís border with Red China.
And why achieve domination over those who speak Ukrainian in such a violent and hateful manner that will undoubtedly subject your troops to endless guerilla warfare? Remember the mujahideen in Afghanistan? How did that turn out for the USSR and, for that matter, all outsider powers? And you can bet Ukrainian guerillas will have no shortage of western-supplied arms and ammunition. And why get into a two-front conflict, fighting Ukrainian guerillas on Russiaís western front plus fighting Chechnya Muslim rebels in southeastern Russia?
No doubt Putin would like to run more natural gas pipelines across Ukraine into Western Europe. While pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move natural gas, pipelines are easy targets for guerillas. Can Putin afford to post troops 24/7 along every mile of every gas pipeline crossing Ukraine?
Maybe, as one astute reader suggests, Putinís ego is in command. He does what he does because he can. Maybe Putin thinks he must strike before the U.S. elects a commander-in-chief worthy of the name.* Or maybe there could be something to the rumors that Putin suffers from Parkinsonís disease. Maybe, cancer? How else to explain his haste?
But, assuming President Putin is not at deathís door and can play a long game; Putin has the advantage of Russiaís huge oil and natural gas reserves. Did Putin wait to attack Ukraine until Germany (supposedly, NATOís best-armed member) shut down three of its few remaining nuclear reactors, making Germany almost totally dependent on Putinís natural gas?
So, what is next? Does Putin have his eye on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania? All three Baltic States have been members of the E.U. and NATO since 2004. If Putin invades a NATO member, will the other NATO members live up to their Article V pledge that an attack on one is an attack on all? Putin may be using Ukraine as the anvil on which he will split NATO.
* Election disputed.
©2022. William Hamilton.