Vladimir Putin thinks the Soviet Union was a great, marvelous, unmatched world power, the Roman Empire in modern setting, a historical miracle spun by Russia’s cultural and ethnic superiority with lots of nuclear weapons to boot. And he wants it back, starting with the nation of Ukraine, peopled, as he sees it, by residents in most ways Russian themselves. He has a Soviet tactic in mind. Attack that country. Make it part of the whole again.
President Joe Biden, more than a little bit upset by this other president and his amassing tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border, says no, no, many times no and recently threatened sanctions in a trans-Atlantic video session with Putin. Biden is falling short, but gets it that Ukraine is now an advancing democracy and wants to go its own way despite once being the most important part of Russia. Ukraine is already combatting Russia-supported rebels and Biden understands that Hungary, Poland and the Baltic states could be next in line for takeovers. The threat is also to Europe, just as Putin sees a threat to the new Soviet Union if he does not ward off NATO and Europe by making sure that certain border nations belong to him.
Yes, it’s the case that Russia is dwindling in population and wealth, with the selling of gas and oil pretty much a definition of its limited economy. What it lacks in money, however, it makes up for in nuclear weaponry, enough to just maybe blow up half the universe, and the development of hypersonic missiles that the United States does not have. Putin himself also possesses an overload of ambition in wanting to restore what Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan helped take apart, a monster instigating war and implanting oppression around the world while threatening the United States by such means as nuclear missiles in Cuba.
And, therefore, Biden said look, Putin, if you move ahead with your plans, we are going to make it impossible for Russia to deal with financial imperatives by having international banks say go away. Biden said, too, that he would let no gas and oil flow through the recently constructed Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany if an invasion took place. A spokesman said major European nations are on board with Biden about economic sanctions as well as his supplying Ukraine with defensive weaponry. Biden agreed with Putin on no offensive weaponry.
Will any of this work? Given Biden’s record of backing up, giving up, carelessness and disappearing from action, probably not. For reasons of averting climate change threats, Biden had previously threatened sanctions against companies building the pipeline, but changed his mind out of courtesy to Germany even as he had terminated an important U.S. pipeline. Afghanistan is the biggest example of his recklessly scooting from the scene; desperate Americans were left behind along with billions in U.S. weaponry after the killing of U.S. troops. One consequence of the swift, absolutely in-charge Taliban takeover has been the ongoing starvation of a million children, a matter reported by The New York Times and something Biden cheerleaders should consider.
Putin wasn’t deterred from much by President Barack Obama’s sanctions after Russia facilitated Crimea’s separation from Ukraine, and Russia can, to some extent, rely more on China and other parts of Asia if Europe gets tough. As others have suggested, a much, much better way to proceed would be to institute all the mentioned sanctions and far more right now, this minute, a punishment for Russian troops threatening the nation that would go away when the troops went away.
No one wants a war with Russia, and none of this would likely cause one. But such a war is more likely if Russia keeps marching along as it pleases, perhaps figuring that nothing all that bad is going to happen or last long.