Soldiers on the border, Putin threatens Ukraine. The Tsar’s Strategy: Bark and Don’t Bite

Soldiers on the border, Putin threatens Ukraine. The Tsar’s Strategy: Bark and Don’t Bite
Soldiers on the border, Putin threatens Ukraine. The Tsar’s Strategy: Bark and Don’t Bite

The temptation may be there, but the intention is not yet. Certainly the 115 thousand Russian soldiers amassed at the Ukrainian border alarm the concerned US administration, explains Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, of the “attempt to re-propose” an invasion. And the increasingly frequent flights of Russian bombers with nuclear capabilities to the Polish borders contribute to worry the Pentagon and NATO leaders. All while Putin says he is more ready than ever to use the military device to enforce Russia’s interests in Europe. “Our warnings – warned the Russian president speaking to his diplomats – have been perceived and are having effect”.

To understand the words, one must consider the Russian point of view. The military maneuvers of NATO in the Black Sea, the presence of US and British military advisers engaged in training the troops in Kiev and the substantial military supplies guaranteed by the US are equivalent, for Putin, to a progressive enlargement of NATO. An enlargement which, while failing to include Ukraine in the Alliance, may push it to try to recover the Donbass territories. And the inscrutable moves of Recep Tayyp Erdogan contribute to unsettling Putin. Faithful to the unscrupulous role of a NATO member and, at the same time, an accomplice and strategic adversary of the Kremlin, the Turkish president is providing the Kiev forces in the Donbass with the same drones that have cornered Moscow’s allies in Libya and Nagorno Karabakh.

And to annoy Putin are the turnarounds of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. After the initial commitment to ratify the Minsk agreements for the pacification of Donbass by integrating the region into a “federalized” Ukraine, Zelenskiy has renounced all commitments. Vladimir Putin, however, remains far from hypothesizing a real military intervention. Aware of how the Afghan conflict contributed to the fall of the USSR, he is careful not to plan the invasion of a Ukraine twice the size of Italy where the population, across the Dnieper River, looks with little sympathy at Moscow. Also because the weapons and training guaranteed by the US would impose an economic cost on Moscow that is difficult to bear for a Kremlin that has been spending, according to some estimates, over six billion a year since 2014 to support the Donbass insurrection and guarantee its economic survival.

An economic cost to which the political cost generated by the inevitable loss of thousands of human lives would be added. Elements of a certain weight in a Russian landscape where Covid and the economic crisis risk shaking the still undisputed consent of the president. Those troops on the Ukrainian borders, however, play an indisputable political role in view of a second summit with Joe Biden, which is considered imminent by many sources. Because if Putin is unable to sustain a clash, even indirect, in Ukraine much less can a Joe Biden engaged on that Indo-Pacific front where the real great threat is called China can afford it.

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Soldiers border Putin threatens Ukraine Tsars Strategy Bark Dont Bite

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