Saw UK foreign secretary, and one of the pretenders to Boris’s throne, Liz Truss on the tele the other day. She was explaining to the British parliament that Russia couldn’t be allowed to win. She was obviously prepared to fight to the last drop of Ukrainian’s blood. She makes you want Boris to stay.
Another trope being purveyed by all sorts of journalists and commentators is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has nothing to do with the expansion of NATO. Apparently, some right-wing nut jobs are mischievously and erroneously putting this about to muddy the waters. Pro-Russian trolls probably.
It is clear to commentators like Henry Ergas and Greg Sheridan here and many in the UK and US that Putin is motivated by Tsarist-emulation syndrome. Nothing at all to do with NATO. The fact that Putin is on the record in 2008 saying that he would point missiles at Ukraine if it were to join NATO is an inconvenient fact best buried.
Mike Pence recently showed why he was vice president and not president. See, he said, if Poland and the Baltic states had not joined NATO, they would be in the Russian firing line. “Where would Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom? There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin.”
What has this to do with the price of eggs? Whether Russia would have intruded into, say, one or other of the Baltic states, if they were not part of NATO, is unknowable. What is clear is that Ukraine is of very much more strategic significance to Russia than is Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania (put together and multiplied by ten).
Suppose Ukraine were to join NATO, then what of Crimea? What of the Russian separatists in the Donbas region? Would NATO send troops to “free” Crimea; to battle Russian incursions in Donetsk and Luhansk? It would be a potential nightmare.
It is not pro-Russian to look objectively at the situation. It is not pro-Russian to think it might be better if Ukraine was neutral. It’s not pro-Ukrainian to want them all to die in a ditch, to satisfy Liz Truss and company, rather than accept some curtailment of sovereignty brought about because of their strategic geographical position.
A hypothesis in the cause of which ever more sanctions are applied on Russia and the so-called Oligarchs is that Putin will be deposed by his praetorian guard, and all will be well again as progeny of Mikhail Gorbachev takes over. I don’t have the prescience of those making this case, but I’m doubtful. I doubt, whoever would take over, would orchestrate a retreat, issue mea culpas and pay reparations.
It’s gone too far. National pride is at stake and that shouldn’t be underestimated. The Russians by all accounts made that mistake when invading Ukraine. Russia can’t afford to back down now. At least that’s my hypothesis. And Western political bigwigs and those in charge at NATO should at least take that into account. It might save some Ukrainian (and, let’s not forget, Russian) lives.