Many analysts want to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s decision to build up forces is a kind of blackmail designed to force Ukraine and the United States to make concessions, says US-based Russian analyst Andrey Piontkovsky . But what Putin wants from Kyiv and Washington are things they won’t give, and so the Kremlin leader is more likely to go to war.
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Putin doesn’t just want a little more territory in Ukraine, Piontkovsky says. He wants to control all of Ukraine, and Ukrainians will fight to prevent that. And he doesn’t just want a small accord with Washington but a new Yalta something President Joe Biden will never agree to.
Thus, if Putin intended what he has done so far as a form of blackmail, he has landed himself in a dead-end,
“Now he must either end the insane hysteria and give up first, thus losing the game of chicken he has launched, or proceed to escalation, something that will be suicidal for the regime.”
According to Piontkovsky, the latter is more probable. Indeed, he says, not only are Putin and his entourage inclined in that direction, this “fatal decision has already been taken [as] they are so under the influence of imperial insanity” and, acting as “the best students of Brzezinski,” assume they have to have Ukraine if Russia is to be an empire.
Ukrainians will resist, and the US has no choice but to resist as well because were it to back down now, that would open the way to “the complete dismantling of the system of security in Europe” and “Putin would be able to do whatever he wants on that continent,” including making a move to seize the Baltic countries.
Moreover, if the US were to back away from Ukraine, its obvious weakness relative to Putin would cost it support around the world. And because of all these reasons, the US won’t back down but will not only supply Ukraine with weapons and advisors but inflict real damage on Russia “above all of an economic character.”
If Putin openly invades Ukraine, what will follow will not be some economic sanctions, “but total economic war,” Piontkovsky says. Russia will lose access to SWIFT, it will face an oil embargo, and it will see the countries of the West move to seize “’the Russian trillion,’” Russian money now in Western banks and Western real estate.
Those moves will so affect the Russian elite that it will no longer be willing to follow Putin unquestioningly. The Kremlin leader may think he is in complete control of his own house, but these pressures will demonstrate to him and the world that he is not. Of course, the mediocrities immediately around him will back him, but many further away won’t.
Even before a shot is fired, the Russian economy is teetering, the analyst continues. The ruble exchange rate is collapsing. But if the West wages economic war against Russia, that country will face “an economic catastrophe the regime won’t survive.” Those intoxicated with Russian imperialism may think otherwise but they are wrong.
Putin likely thinks that if he starts an invasion, he can escape these disastrous consequences thanks to the mediation of people like French President Emmanuel Macron who will try to end the fighting by negotiations, which will require more concessions from Ukraine and an agreement from the West to lift rather than impose more sanctions.
There are probably enough people in Western capitals who will go along with this, but the leaders of the key countries now, the United States and Turkey, aren’t among them. Consequently, Putin has almost certainly made yet another miscalculation that will lead him to disaster.
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