Friday, September 28, 2018

Making Russia Grate Again

Putin is not making Russia Russia great again--he's just alienating and annoying people.

This assessment of Russia's 2014 invasions of Ukraine (Crimea and the Donbas) is about right:

It is ironic that the Russian invasion, originally intended to punish Ukraine’s Western-oriented government, has pushed the country in a dramatically different direction. It’s also a reminder that the supposed strategic gifts of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, are in fact very limited. His interference in Ukraine has made a once-friendly neighboring country into an enemy.

I've been shocked that some in the West can praise Putin's purported strategic brilliance when it seems obvious he is effing up royally.

Russia might have gotten away with their quick seizure of Crimea. The West would have protested but shrugged their shoulders in the end, and gone on with business as usual.

But Putin raised the ante and invaded Ukraine after Ukraine recovered from the chaos of the fall of the pro-Russian government in early 2014. Unlike Ukraine's effective abandonment of Crimea, Ukraine continues to fight for the Donbas region not split between the Russians (via their local hand puppets bolstered by Russian forces) and the Ukrainians.

So the West was pretty much forced to respond to Russian aggression because Ukraine continued to fight the aggression, making business as usual to humiliating to contemplate.

I did say that Russia's invasion of Donbas via proxies as much as possible was a sign of weakness rather than brilliance; because if Russia had the capability of waging a war of conquest against Ukraine, they would have done it to get it over fast:

This Russian approach is all based on Russian conventional weakness (compared to America-against their western neighbors Russia has the edge). Tell me that Russia wouldn't have preferred to hit the Donbas hard and win fast. The West got over the stripping of Georgian territories in 2008 because the war was over fast. The West seems to be ignoring the Russian conquest of Crimea and no doubt would have forgotten about it almost as quickly, given all the excuses still being deployed in the West to justify Russian aggression.

That's the way it works. The USSR subdued Hungary and Czechoslovakia quickly. We could do nothing. The USSR failed to subdue Afghanistan and eventually we made them pay a price for fighting there.

Russia should have invaded the Donbas while they took Crimea if they had the capability and gotten it done fast--or refrained from the attempt, being satisfied with the well-executed seizure of Crimea.

The war drags on. But Russia hasn't lost Ukraine yet. If Russia grows stronger while Ukraine remains static, the war of conquest can be renewed later and won.

If Ukraine can really fight corruption to build rule of law and become part of the West rather than being not part of the Russian empire, then Russia will truly lose the war.