Perhaps the safest assumption to make regarding Russian President Putin is that he wants to takeover Ukraine – and he will do so at some time in the future.
It looks as though that he is ready now. According to American intelligence, Putin has all the military personal and weapons he needs for an invasion. His troops are strategically deployed on three sides of the Ukraine eastern border – including in his puppet-state of Belarus. It has been reported that Putin has been shipping weapons and supplies to the separatists who have been waging a regional civil war for eight years.
But there is no guarantee that Putin will actually carry out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at this moment. It may be one humongous bluff to gain concessions. If the United States or NATO acquiesce to Putin’s demands, it will be a big win for the Russian dictator.
As far as we know of his demands, Putin wants a written agreement from the west, promising not to place troops in Ukraine – and no weapons. In fact, Putin wants America to withdraw any western assistance and weapons it provided in the past. Putin wants iron-clad guarantees that Ukraine will never be admitted to NATO.
He also wants NATO’s front line of defense to reform at the 1992 level – basically leaving the Baltic nations that joined NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union defenseless. That demand is dead on arrival – and Putin most certainly knows that. It seems more like one of these bargaining points to be given up in negotiation in order to seem reasonable.
According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, these are some concessions that could avoid the invasion. We would have a “diplomatic solution.” Biden would brag how he avoided war, but only if the United States and NATO lose at the negotiating table.
It is entirely possible that Putin would take a few significant concessions and pull back his troops for the time being. But make no mistake, he will either invade now or later. If he can weaken Ukraine’s defenses by forcing out western support, Putin could take that and delay the invasion for a more propitious time.
In reaching “diplomatic solutions,” what will Putin concede? Probably nothing more than to hold off on his seizure of Ukraine – a bogus concession arbitrarily created to win real concessions. Maybe he should return the Crimea to Ukraine … stop supplying the separatists … cease cyber warfare. Of course, none of those are on the table thanks to the timid and feckless American leadership.
How about this. America and NATO will send in 100,000 troops into Ukraine, commit air support to fend off any invasion … tell Putin to return Crimea … and we will admit Ukraine to NATO, triggering the Article Five mutual defense commitment. Put those options on the negotiation table and then start bargaining.
Unfortunately, Biden lacks the testicular fortitude to get tough with Putin. His State Department are a bunch of establishment wimps, who are devoted to endless talking (diplomacy, the call it). That means Putin takes Ukraine now or wins a range of major commitments (surrenders) from the United States and NATO. He then waits for the next opportunity to invade Ukraine – as he will for sure. Putin wins. America loses … again.
So, there ‘tis.