International, Politics

Putin Just Woke the Sleeping Eagle

It seems that Russia had two distinct but overlapping goals in invading Ukraine. The first was to take control of its western borderland, an area that gives it strategic depth and that Moscow believes to be in its sphere of influence. The second was to pit NATO members against each other, breaking off factions that opposed any form of intervention. Whatever anyone says about President Vladimir Putin’s character and temperament is irrelevant. For Russia, there’s a logic to the strategy. Defending one’s country is a ruthless task.

Central to all calculations on European power is Germany. It’s been a military nonentity for some time, and since 1991 its primary focus has been economic growth. It has a massive, export-oriented economy that requires a ton of energy, and much of that energy comes from Russia. (More will come if and when the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline comes online.) The Russians planned this crisis with this in mind.

Like virtually all countries, Germany was hurting from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic when the war in Ukraine started. The loss of Russian energy would only make things worse. Since Germany and Russia tend to cooperate on economic matters, and Germany has avoided both military rearmament and confrontations with Russia, Moscow assumed that whatever it did in Ukraine was of no consequence to Berlin…

Russia has put itself in a bad position. The fragmentation of Europe is no longer possible. Even if it defeats Ukraine, it will be that much closer to a hostile Europe, led by a newly remilitarized Germany. Read more…

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