As the crisis in Ukraine unfolds, the West must not underestimate Russia. It must not bank on narratives inspired by wishful thinking. Russian victory in Ukraine is not science fiction, the German Marshall Fund’s Liana Fix and Catholic University’s Michael Kimmage contend.
A war in Ukraine would revive NATO not as a democracy-building enterprise or as a tool for out-of-area expeditions like the war in Afghanistan but as the unsurpassed defensive military alliance that it was designed to be, they write for Foreign Affairs:
But if there may be little that the West can do to prevent a Russian military conquest, it will be able to influence what happens afterward. … Much as the United States retained the diplomatic properties of the three Baltic states in Washington, D.C., after they had been annexed by the Soviet Union during World War II, the West can put itself on the side of decency and dignity in this conflict. Wars that are won are never won forever. All too often countries defeat themselves over time by launching and then winning the wrong wars. RTWT
While Mr Putin clearly feels a need to show Russians that their neighbors will not be allowed a flourishing democracy, most of Russia sees no benefit from such a demonstration, The Economist observes. They want what is good for them more than what is bad for the West. They do not want the perpetual prospect of war, nor the sort of state which that implies.
The position of the siloviki securocrats is articulated by Nikolai Patrushev, who as head of the country’s security council has assumed the role of the chief ideologue among the former KGB men who dominate the Russian state, it adds. Russia is locked in a civilizational and geopolitical fight for its life, he argues. The West is trying to destroy it by “aggressively advancing neoliberal values that contradict our worldview”.