Putin’s Russia is currently militarily involved in two conflicts – in Ukraine and in Syria. At the latter scene a Russian strike force consisting of Russia only carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is expected to arrive today – just in time when a Russian ultimatum addressed to the rebels (aka “terrorists”) to withdraw from the besieged ends. Many observers consider Russia’s recent interventions as a show of force. Russia wants to show that it still is a world power and Putin wants to distract the Russian people from the bad economic situation at home.
The big war – a question of time
Here are some thoughts on how things around the world currently look and what Putin might plan.
First of all it has to be acknowledged that many countries (“the West”, so Europe and the USA) have been spared from a bigger war for a long time and could enjoy decades of relative peace after two devastating world wars last century. So it might be just a question of time when the next big war disrupts the peace.
While it seems that the USA is stepping back of its self proclaimed role as world police after the failed attack war in Iraq and the increasingly isolationist tendencies, Putin seems to be more interested in military adventures. In fact Putin’s Russia is doing quite a lot which reminds on preparations for war.
The West’s weakness is Putin’s opportunity
Why should Putin start or risk a major war? The answer is quite simple, because he can and because there is a good opportunity.
Let’s face it. Economically Russia can’t stand against the so called “West”, on the first glimpse also not militarily. But this depends on what Putin’s goals really are. Putin has tested the West in Ukraine and Syria. red lines were drawn, ultimatums set, but they were so far every time useless. The West and the people living there have no interest in confrontation with Russia or even war. Just the thought of it makes them rather take a few steps back than to confront Putin.
Assuming Putin intends to increase Russia influence in its neighborhood and for example get back control over countries belonging to the former Soviet Union. This has been publicly stated by some Russian hardliners. Russia could attack and capture the three Baltic states that are NATO members. NATO members would then be responsible to act on behalf of the allies and intervene militarily. Do you think this would really happen? Do you think that soldier from Germany, Denmark, USA and UK would be moving towards the East to help their Allies – three tiny Baltic states. Even if a Russian attack on the Baltic states would kill NATO soldiers stationed there, everyone is too afraid to take the risk as Putin can threaten to use its nuclear weapons. The people in the West have too much to lose – especially in a materialistic sense.
The Baltic states would be conquered by Russia so quickly that the NATO couldn’t really help and when the NATO doesn’t do what it is supposed to do,it becomes obsolete. This would be in Putin’s favor.
Putin is preparing for war
Russia is doing in Syria and Ukraine what the Nazis did in the Spanish Civil war. Training the troops, testing equipment and tactics.
At the same time, Russian state media draws a very negative picture of Europe aka the “West”. Europe is gay, rotten and hostile. Also Russia warns from a nuclear war with the West and conducts drills. Is this just show for the Russian people, saber-rattling or real preparation for the worst case? Probably it is from all a bit.
At the same time Russia is actively supporting (right-wing) populism in Europe and in America. Russia supports what weakens the Western people’s trust in their governments and democracy. Putin wants the normal people in the West to think of their nation first than of international obligations and solidarity.
An American president that questions the use of NATO (Trump) and does isolationist politics, is what Putin needs for his plans (assuming they exist). If then a critical mass of Europeans has lost their faith in the current system or government, it is the perfect time to go and take what Putin believes belongs to him and/or Russia. As long as the American people and the Central European are not directly affected by any Russian aggression, they won’t interfere. Thanks to Russia’s successful propaganda quite a few might justify it on behalf of Russia.
Of course this all is of rather speculative character, but on the other hand is can’t be rules out – not at all.