Staunton, April 4 – Moscow is certainly in the process of putting forces in place that could be used for another invasion of Ukraine, but a debate has opened in both Moscow and the West as to whether this is simply a bluff designed to keep Ukraine off balance and frighten the West into negotiations or whether Putin really intends to go ahead and invade later this spring.
One who falls in the latter camp is Russian commentator Igor Eidman who argues that Vladimir Putin has “three basic reasons” for going ahead with an attack either now or at some point in the not distant future (glavred.info/opinions/tri-prichiny-pochemu-putin-ot-ukrainy-ne-otstanet-10261430.html).
First of all, he argues that Putin’s regime is not capable of existing for long in peaceful circumstances.” It needs an enemy to mobilize the population and “’small victorious wars’ in order to keep the population in a state of ‘constant wonder’ and patriotic intoxication.” A war now would distract from Navalny and from all the talk about elections.
Second, “Ukraine is an idee fixe” that has long taken control of Putin’s thinking. “He dreams of becoming the founder of the third Reich (after the Romanov and Soviet versions) and what kind of Russia Empire would there be without Ukraine? So, not a Reich but a fake; and as long as Putin is in power, he won’t turn stop” trying to seize Ukraine.
And third, Eidman argues, “Putin wants right now to show Biden his disgust and strength. This is like in a jail.” Biden is the new man, and Putin the one who has been there wants to show the new on his place by showing that he can do things that the other assumes he can’t. Unfortunately, at present, Ukraine is the object of this lesson.
It is “another question” entirely, however, whether Putin will launch a massive attack or a smaller one, the commentator says. His own view is that Putin won’t launch a massive one because “economically the Putin regime is not in a position to support such a war and the inevitable and unprecedented American and European sanctions that would follow.”
Putin will test the waters. If Ukraine resists and has the support of the West, the Kremlin leader will limit himself to that. If Ukraine is unable to resist or gain Western backing, then almost certainly the Russian leader will push and push until he runs out of steam, Eidman suggests.
In this situation, he continues, “honest Russians must try in every possible way to ensure the defeat of their own country in this aggressive war. Only such a devastating defeat can open the path toe democratic changes in Russia itself. This, to put it clearly, is the civic responsibility of Russians.”
“Because, as Galich sang, ‘Citizens, the fatherland is in danger: our tanks are on an alien land.’”