In his speech declaring war on Ukraine, the dictator of Russia, Vladimir Putin, said the goal of his “special operation” was the de-Nazification of Ukraine and ridding it of drug addicts. He’d remove the democratically elected government and install a Russia-friendly puppet government instead, thus expanding the power and influence of the Russian empire. But de-Nazification?
Sanctions have a checkered history. They didn’t get rid of Castro in Cuba or the Kims in North Korea. It took more than a decade for sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s to bear fruit. But the world has never seen sanctions like this. Ironically, these sanctions may give Putin even more power.
Just as 9/11 dramatically changed the flow of history, resulting in two wars and hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of lives ruined, so too will Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Right now, we are seeing only the first effects and getting glimpses of second-order effects. The broad third-order effects will not be visible for a long time, though they’ll be obvious in hindsight.
Eight days before Russia invaded Ukraine, I wrote an article saying there would be no war. I was certain of it. I was wrong. How could I get it so wrong? The more you knew about the situation, the more likely you were to get it wrong.
To understand the situation, we have to at least attempt to understand the Russian perspective. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US and Western allies made a promise to Russia that NATO would not expand its membership to countries that had borders with Russia. In the US we are spoiled by our geography; we feel secure. Russia sees Ukraine joining NATO as a clear and present danger to its national security.