Staunton, Nov. 30 – Putin’s demands on the West are ones he knows the West will not agree to, thus giving him in his eyes justification for military action against Ukraine at a time when the West is weak, Ukraine is growing in strength, and his own generals don’t want to be called back a second time in a year, Konstantin von Eggert says.
Were the West to agree to Putin’s demands, the Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle says, it would mark the end of NATO. But this is a good time for him to make them, the Kremlin leader has concluded by “the political will of the West has been weakened by the pandemic, the interests of major business” in trade with China, and “the lack of far-sighted political leaders.”
A second reason Putin has for adopting this tactic now, von Eggert says, is that he has concluded that no pro-Russian leaders are going to emerge in Ukraine and that the Ukrainian military is only growing stronger as a result of Western assistance just as Azerbaijan’s did before the 2020 war (dw.com/ru/kommentarij-poslednjaja-bitva-putina/a-60303733).
Given this conjunction, the Russian commentator says, Putin has decided that he needs to move now before the West regroups and the Ukrainian military becomes too strong to defeat. In addition, there is an important domestic consideration which undoubtedly is weighing on the Kremlin leader’s thinking.
This is the second time in the past year that Moscow has moved massive numbers of troops up to the Ukrainian border. The first time Putin pulled them back. Were he to do so again, von Eggert says, such a move “would create the impression of indecisiveness and weakness, especially among the military.”
That is something Putin who relies increasingly on the siloviki “has always sought to avoid.” Consequently, the Kremlin leader like the cornered rat he often talks about feels he has nowhere to retreat to and thus plans to lash out against Ukraine and the West rather than engage in any lengthy negotiations or pursuit of a compromise.