I am awake again in the middle of the night because my sinuses are clogged up, and I cannot breathe properly. Since I am awake, I decided to write. I thought about working on my podcast, but I don’t want to sound like a dying goose choking to death.
Like so many others, I am concerned about what is happening in Ukraine. I studied Russian/Soviet history and society in college many years ago and feel I have a basic understanding of what is happening there.
Russia has never cared about the countries surrounding it, other than they want to control them to provide a security buffer against any potential enemies. Poland is an example of a nation that Russia dominated for many years until the fall of the Iron Curtain. Poland turned to the West for support because their history taught them not to trust Russia. Poland joined NATO for this reason.
Finland is an example of a nation like Ukraine that gained independence from Russia and struggles to maintain it. Finland has historically tried not to provoke Russia, but now Finland is also reaching out to the West for support. Finland has recently expressed interest in joining the EU and NATO, which Russia opposes.
Russia has no interest in Ukraine determining its future. To Russia, self-determination only applies to itself. Russia still practices spheres of influence, an outdated concept that no longer applies to the world. Taking away the rights of another country is barbaric, invading another country is unacceptable, and slaughtering civilians is a crime against humanity.
Russians have a moral compass, but their government tightly controls theirs. Russia has never successfully achieved democracy, so strongman tactics are acceptable to the majority of the population. Putin tried to accomplish the balancing act of China, with economic freedom but no political freedom. Russia has the natural resources to be a prosperous nation, but its economy is a disaster that never evolved from the old Soviets system. The only difference is that a handful of oligarchs now control the economy. There are no incentives to make things work for the benefit of anyone other than themselves. A country the size of Russia has an economy equivalent to that of Spain or Italy. Their economy is shrinking because of the lack of modernization and improvement.
Money in Russia goes to the oligarchs and Putin. We see the miserable performance of the Russian military. This failure is a direct result of the corruption in the Russian state.
Historical compliance to the will of a strongman complicates things today. Russians are less likely to overthrow a corrupt regime than other countries because they lack the experiences of personal liberties that we take for granted. I would love to wake up and discover that the Russian people have had enough of Putin and overthrew him, but I don’t see that as likely.
Ukraine will not bow to the Russians, especially after the invasion. If Russia does conquer the territory, it will face a struggle like Afghanistan that it cannot win. Russia will remain a pariah state like North Korea until the madness stops. I don’t think that China will do more than issue statements to support Russia because China is a world player economically. China does not want to be isolated from the world. China tried that under Mao, and it was a disaster.
Putin is a war criminal, and he must be removed from power before he enlarges the conflict. NATO remains committed to defending its member states, so if Putin is foolish enough to attack Poland or the Baltic states, he will set off a global war. Russia has nuclear weapons, and that is the real danger. A madman who has lost everything might not act rationally. Russia must remove Putin from power. The people to do that are the Russians or at least the oligarchs.
I hope that soon we hear the news that Putin is deposed and sanity prevails, and the invasion stops. Ukraine should be fully restored to its 1991 boundaries and allowed to join NATO and the EU as quickly as possible.