A few days ago Russia… let’s be honest, Vladimir Putin… launched a full invasion of Ukraine. Not just small pieces, but the entire country. Now, I will not front, I support Ukraine in this 100%, though I do not believe it will go well for them.
Please note that my thoughts have been very fluid on this situation for several weeks. What I say and think may change based on unfolding events, and already have changed since the actual invasion a few days ago. My points and topics here may be kind of scattered and incomplete, but hopefully they will come together over time. So, some random thoughts and points…
What does Putin want?
I believe the primary purpose behind Putin’s actions are his ego, his concern with his legacy. He doesn’t want to be remembered as just another bureaucrat, he wants to be remembered in history as the one who “reassembled” the old Soviet Union, or the old Russia (as much as possible). Ukraine is a big part of that. Ukraine is also about the last piece he can bring back. Belarus is a Putin Puppet state, he failed in Georgia, the countries in the Kazakhstan area might be too strong, and the Baltic states… which I believe he really wants along with Ukraine, Russia has had a “Europe inferiority complex” for centuries… are long gone, members of NATO. But if he can get Ukraine, which has been drifting West, he would see that as a feather in his cap and help solidify his historical legacy… he believes.
Strategy: Following Hitler’s Playbook
There are many similarities here. Back in the 1920s and 1930s there were various security alliances. Very fragmented and chaotic than a single NATO today, but the same concept. In the 1930s Adolf Hitler wanted to expand Germany, in much the same way and for the same reasons Putin wants to expand Russia. What did Hitler/Germany do?
- Re-occupied the Rhineland in 1936, in violation of the Versailles Treaty. There were measures in place to oppose this, and nobody did anything.
- The complete occupation and annexation of Austria in 1938. No one did anything.
- Emboldened by the lack of consequences Hitler then set his sights on the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia (CZ). CZ was militarily strong, and had defense pacts with France and the Soviet Union. With threats of war the leaders of Europe met and sacrificed CZ (weren’t even allowed at the table!) and signed the Munich Agreement. CZ was now a shell of itself, and it was only a matter of time. CZ is a good example for modern Ukraine.
- The Memel Territory was returned to Germany from Lithuania under threat of an ultimatum.
- Then the remainder of CZ was invaded and taken by Germany. CZ’s allies had already abandoned them, and made it public, might as well.
- Then the invasion of Poland in 1939. Hitler, I believe, presumed he would have free reign here, also, and why not?, up to this point everyone who could stop him abandoned their alleged convictions and agreements to do so.
Ok, so what has Putin been doing?
- Second Chechen War, 1999-2009, to bring Chechnya back after losing them earlier in the decade (pre-Putin).
- Russo-Georgia War, 2008, where Russia invaded Georgia. Georgia had been taking a pro-West turn and this was unacceptable to Russia. Russia started making wild accusations as a prelude (read: excuse) to invade, and they did. Unfortunately for Russia, they lost. Fast forward to today and Russia does occupy part of the country, but there is only a cease-fire in place, and Georgia is seeking NATO membership.
- Insurgency in the North Caucasus, 2009-2017, basically the aftermath of the Second Chechen War noted above.
- Invasion and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, 2014, really part of the current conflict.
- War in Donbas in Ukraine, 2015-present, also part of the current conflict.
- Proclaimed/recognized the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, from two “breakaway” regions in Donbas, in 2022. Part of the current conflict.
- Invasion of all of Ukraine, 2022, status yet to be determined.
Chip chip chip chip away. Bit by bite by bite. Take what you want a piece at a time. Test the resolve of the more reasonable opposition to get what you want. Take action in bites just small enough to get people worked up, but not big enough to prompt them to actually do anything. Will it work? Is it working? For Putin, I mean. Will Ukraine be to Putin what Poland was to Hitler, the beginning of his downfall?
That’s it for now. I will take this up in another episode, soon. I will say I have so many conflicting thoughts I don’t really know where to go with them. Basically, this is getting longer than I it would, and it is taking long than I thought it would… and I got stuff to do. So, until next time… here ya go!