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How and Why Will Putin Seize Ukraine

How and Why Will Putin Seize Ukraine

Saturday, 5 March, 2022 - 05:30
Camelia Entekhabifard
Editor-in-chief of the Independent Persian.

The Russia-Ukraine war has now gone to its second week. As the war is prolonged, many believe that Putin has miscalculated and that Russia’s war machine will now be stopped by the sanctions of the European Union and NATO.

Ranking 22nd out of a list of military capabilities of 140 countries, Ukraine was obviously not an easy force to reckon with. The largest country in Europe (if you don’t count Russia’s European section) with an area of more than 600,000 square kilometers and boasting a population of 43 million people, this isn’t a country that could be occupied and seized overnight.

But Putin knew all of this. He hasn’t invaded Ukraine out of naivety. The US President and NATO countries also know the fact that the war has been prolonged and Kiev hasn’t fallen is not due to Russia’s lack of military capability or miscalculations by Putin.

As usual, what we read in the mainstream media or what the regurgitating pundits claim is far from the real state of things. For a few years now, the political and military balance of power has shifted — as have the policies and strategies of the US, Russia, China and India. Priorities have shifted.

We no longer live in a unipolar world; US’s supremacy is now seriously challenged by Russia and China. What we see today, in the beginning of the second week of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, was predictable for Putin. He will go all the way to seizure of Ukraine and will bring about changes that are desired by Russia.

Upon gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine inherited a military with 780,000 soldiers and the world’s third biggest nuclear arsenal, boasting 200 nuclear warheads. In May 1992, Kiev signed the Lisbon protocol which obligated it to give up all its nuclear weapons to Russia. It joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear country.

Ukraine’s large nuclear sites are an inheritance from the knowledge and investment by Russia in the Soviet period. The country now hosts Europe’s largest nuclear energy centers. As President Zelensky shows an inclination for closer ties to the EU and NATO, and given the possibility of Ukraine building a nuclear bomb, Russia is faced with the possibility of its biggest security crisis following the fall of the USSR.

Yes, Ukraine’s nuclear weapons were given up but the country still has the knowledge and capacity of building them. Putin’s concerns are rooted in national security and challenges he faces vis a vis the West and the United States -- and the question of balance of forces.

Ukraine is considered a gate to Russia. The country is not only a neighbor of Russia and former Soviet Union’s second largest country but its people bear much demographic and linguistic similarity to Russia’s. There are many close ties.

Ukraine’s aspirations to join the EU and NATO, and the possibility of it building a nuclear weapon, are amongst the red lines of Russia. Zelensky’s close ties to the West and his belief in support from the US and NATO, put him on a path with conflict Russia. This is what brought about the current situation. Now, Putin’s military actions have targeted not only Ukraine and Zelensky — but have brought a new challenge to West and the US.

Even after the end of the Cold War, Russia has never had ordinary friendly relations with the West and the US. To watch the raising of nuclear weapon bases in Eastern Europe and in former countries of the USSR or the Warsaw Pact — plus the presence of US nuclear submarines near its borders (in Norway) — has meant a lot of worry for Russia.

The sanctions will hurt Russia but they’ll have an equally negative effect on the global economy. Russia is a large and strong government with much trade with other countries including the US.

Leaders of NATO countries, including the US, speak of their concerns for Ukraine and its shelterless people. They are also fearful of bloodshed and a total war in the country’s biggest cities. On March 4, they rejected Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone.

NATO has insisted that it will continue supporting Ukraine but it won’t enter a war with Russia in its defense.

The global price of oil is increasing. EU is worried about cutting of gas and oil imports from Russia. The US itself hasn’t been able to stop buying oil from Russia. Even now, it continues to import Russian oil.

But West’s crippling sanctions are now targeting luxury yachts of Russian billionaires or Russian footballers and athletes who have nothing to do with politics — there was also the earth-shattering banning of Russian carts from a cat beauty pageant!

The ‘isolation’ claimed by West is based on it sanctions policy which is not supported by all the world. China and India didn’t join in. The countries of our region, who have witnessed years of shifting polices and strategies by the US and the West are also adopting a neutral approach. This neutralism is meaningful — for example, they refuse to increase oil production in OPEC to help bring down the vital commodity’s price, despite requests by US and its Western partners.

Putin will indeed seize Ukraine but he won’t stop there. He will make sure that Ukraine’s nuclear sites will never have the capacity for building of nuclear weapons. Most importantly, during the negotiations, he’ll bring about other preconditions and demand for NATO to stop hosting nuclear weapons in Eastern European countries, so close to the borders of Russia.

Russia can’t accept the West threatening its borders. Ukraine and Belarus are seen as gates to Russia; so are countries of Central Asia.

This has been Russian policy since Peter the Great. Russians will not accept opposing governments in these countries; they won’t accept any government that’s not close to them.

Now, a few words about the possibility of a nuclear war.

In 2018, when Putin was asked about the possibility of a third world war, he gave a strange but meaningful response.

Quoting Albert Einstein, the Russian president said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

In simpler words, if the world’s powers use nuclear weapons, everything will be destroyed and the next war will be fought in the way of primary humans — those of the pre-historic period.

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