Ukraine – What Putin Wants!
The defining moment(s) of Vladimir Putin’s upbringing and education is whatever his parents told him about the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union which took place in June 1941. This was about 6 months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor forcing the United States to enter World War II on the side of England. Joseph Stalin who ran the USSR since the 1920s had entered into a Non-Aggression Pact with Adolph Hitler, and Stalin 100% believed that Hitler would never make a move against him after the pact was signed. Prior to this treaty in September 1939, Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland and carved it up, with Hitler taking half the country from the West and Stalin taking the Eastern portion. Stalin felt very secure after the Polish invasion.
Then came June 1941 and Hitler decided to swallow up Russia once and for all. His mistake, he should have invaded two months earlier. By the time he got within Moscow’s doorsteps, a horrific winter set in and clutched what seemed like a rapid victory into a stalemate and ultimate defeat. In an industrialized war which means an advanced country against an advanced country, an army must invade the other country and take their capital, and that usually ends the war with a surrender on the other country’s part. Thus the US had to take Berlin and Tokyo to win. Hitler needed to take Moscow and London.
To be more informative, this is why America is not very good at guerilla wars. In a guerrilla war like Viet Nam, or Afghanistan, the capital doesn’t matter. The enemy does not fight in fixed formations and melts away at night. Such wars drag on and on and on. Ho Chi Minh of North Viet Nam carried on a guerilla war from the 1930s through and into the 1970s via his successors. Afghanistan went on for 20 years against the Taliban. Such wars necessitate a different type of fighting, mindsets, and strategies from industrialized wars.
Back to Putin who was taught by his parents that Russia was invaded many times over the centuries by European foreign powers as well as from the East, meaning Japan in 1905. World War II cost the Russians at least 20 and maybe 30 million troops and citizens before it was over. The carnage left the country flattened and impoverished between the Western borders which included Ukraine and into Moscow.
There was nothing left, it’s as though Russia was an agricultural country with no industry. It is for this reason that Russia during World War II went west to Berlin and left troops in every country between Moscow and German and never freed up those countries at all. For almost fifty years we used the term Iron Curtain and Eastern Europe was imprisoned behind it. Stalin made the decision from World War II onward there would never be another European invasion of the Soviet Union. Stalin put as many as 20,000 tanks in those satellite countries. The West meaning the United States felt that the Russians were going to invade Western Europe and turn it all communists and maybe they were. In the Russian mind that was probably a motivation. Just as important, was their need to secure their borders by adding hundreds of miles of other countries as a buffer zone before an invasion of Russia could take place.
Forty Years Later
It’s now the 1989- 1991 period and the Soviet Union has fallen apart. Communism is seeing the last nail in the coffin and the country decides to go peacefully into chaos, complete and utter chaos. It literally breaks apart into 15 Post Soviet States on Christmas Day 1991. Ukraine was one of them. Each became a member of the United Nations and three became over the years members of NATO. They were Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Vladimir Putin became a disciple of Boris Yeltsin who basically ran Russia after the collapse and then in 1999, Yeltsin became the top dog by promising Yeltsin a chronic alcoholic that if he supported Yeltsin, Putin made sure he, his family, and his wealth would be left untouched. Putin kept his word to Yeltsin.
Yes, Putin dreams about reconstituting the old Soviet Empire and restoring what he believes is its glory. But that’s not the real deal and when you see and hear this constantly in Western news media outlets, they simply don’t get it. Putin is paranoid about Russia’s borders and still lives in fear of an invasion from the West as ridiculous as that seems. For us living in the West it is difficult to believe. The truth is that none of us remember the War of 1812 when the English invaded America and burned the White House to the ground. None of us remember that the American people hated the English for 100 years after that. It only got healed in 1917 when America entered World War I on the English side.
The Russians have been invaded 4 times since 1812 when Napoleon went in with 600,000 troops and 50,000 horses and came back with less than 50,000 men after an extraordinary Russian Winter that ravaged his forces. Then Hitler tries it again with Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and almost succeeds and winter intervenes again. Putin’s response is, “I need buffer zones and that is why he needs Ukraine and make no mistake about it. With Ukraine on the side of the West or NATO, Russia has no buffer at all and it eats away at Putin every day. He desperately wants it. It is also the breadbasket of Europe, with some of the finest fertile soil in the world perhaps exceeded only by America’s agricultural heartland.
Ukraine is roughly the size of Texas. Ukraine’s capital Kyiv is roughly 650 miles from Moscow. The Eastern border of Ukraine is 240 miles from Moscow. Think about it, if Ukraine were a member of NATO, the United States could place nuclear-tipped missiles within 240 miles of Moscow. Sounds like about 5 minutes for a missile(s) to hit Moscow Center and the Kremlin. This means there is no response time in the event of war. Putin cannot live with this and refuses to live with it. This is why he is all in as they say in poker. He desperately needs Ukraine to create breathing room for a homeland invasion.
He has a unique problem now. What’s that? When he invaded Ukraine he had a full set of expectations as to what would happen and as to what happened. He never saw it coming. More on this later.
April 1, 2022