PARIS – President Vladimir V. Putin has sent Russian troops into Ukraine but has made it clear his real goal is to go beyond the neighboring country’s “lying empire” of America, and he threatens “consequences that you have never faced in your history” against “anyone who tried to interfere with us.”
In another rambling speech filled with historical grievances and accusations of relentless Western plotting against his country, Putin on Thursday reminded the world that Russia “remains one of the most powerful nuclear state” with “a certain advantage in certain areas of advanced weapons. ”
In fact, Putin’s speech, intended to justify the invasion, appears to be closer to the risk of nuclear war than any statement by a major world leader in decades. recently. His immediate aim was clear: to halt any possible military move by the West by making it clear that he would not hesitate to escalate.
Given Russia’s nuclear arsenal, he said, “there is no doubt that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences if it attacks the country directly. we.” He added: “All necessary decisions have been made on this matter.”
Putin’s entry into Ukraine and his thinly veiled nuclear threat have now shattered Europe’s conception of security and the presumption of peace that the country has endured for generations. The postwar Europe project, which generated so much stability and prosperity, has entered a new phase, full of uncertainty and confrontation.
On the eve of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a train carrying Western leaders made a pilgrimage to Moscow to convince Putin not to do so. Essentially, the Americans proposed a return to arms control; President Emmanuel Macron of France is ready to look for a new security architecture if Mr. Putin is not satisfied with the old one.
The sincere, perhaps naive, faith of Mr. Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in their ability to bring Mr. Putin to reason shows the distance between the worlds in which they live. The Russian leader is not interested in taking a small knife to the security order of Europe, but a blunt knife to cut out, Cold War style, what’s mine and what’s yours. .
Europe has rediscovered its vulnerability. Mr. Macron on Thursday said Mr Putin had “decided to commit the most serious breach to our European peace and stability in decades”. As for the Ukrainians, he said, “Their freedom is our freedom.”
But no European country, nor the United States for that matter, would lay down its life for that freedom. Then the question is how can they draw a line for Mr. Putin.
After the short-term war in Georgia in 2008, the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the 2014 settlement of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine that created two breakaway regions, and his military intervention in Syria in 2015. Putin has clearly concluded that Russia’s readiness to use its armed forces to achieve strategic goals will not be answered by the United States or its European allies.
Michel Duclos, a former French ambassador, said: “Russia wants to lose security in Europe because force is their trump card. “They never wanted a new security order, no matter what Europe imagined. Some time ago, Putin decided that confronting the West was his best option.”
Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said the discussion of nuclear conflict was “disturbing.” “But I find it hard to believe that any world leader, including Putin, would seriously consider using nuclear weapons in any of the situations that we have here, for reasons They simply understand the consequences,” he said.
However, history has proven that European wars involving a major global power can spiral out of control. A protracted war in Ukraine could eventually spill over to Poland, Hungary or Slovakia.
Central Europe and the Baltic states, NATO’s effective front line against Russia, will live with a credible sense of intimidation for some time.
An ominous scenario – far-fetched but less than pre-invasion – is Mr Putin, who asked NATO to withdraw from the countries formerly controlled by the Soviet Union to post-expansion posture in 1997, will eventually turn its attention to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, the small Baltic states that now form the front lines of NATO countries.
Mr. Duclos suggested that Mr. Putin’s goal could be to establish a Russian puppet government in Kyiv and, if successful, “he would want the same thing in the Baltic countries”.
All three countries, which were subjugated to the Soviet empire after World War II, joined NATO in 2004. President Biden has stated that the United States and its allies will “defend every inch of our territory. NATO,” meaning that even a Russian attack on tiny Estonia could trigger a fire.
Immediately after the Russian invasion, the three Baltic states and Poland activated Article 4 of the alliance’s treaty, allowing members to hold consultations when they felt their territorial integrity was threatened. . As a result, NATO held an emergency meeting.
These nations’ fears are a clear sign that Russia’s invasion has undermined European security and European assumptions in ways that seem certain to last. long.
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be within its natural sphere of influence, and it is extremely worried about Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
But Mr. Walt noted that if, in Ukraine, “Russia cares more than anyone else and has more means to influence short-term outcomes,” that equation will start to change if Putin goes this far. than. At that point, “determination and capabilities began to shift in our favor.” He added that “the possibility of me dying in a nuclear war is still small, even greater than yesterday.”
European nations, particularly France, often consider the American belief that a Russian invasion is almost inevitable as too alarming, but differences have been noted in their foreign pursuits. deliver.
Ultimately, the diplomatic efforts that Europeans believed in had to come to an end as Putin’s growing isolation made himself a revisionist rage. He seems to find himself standing alone against the United States and what he describes as “far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis” that “top NATO countries are supporting.” household” in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin’s growing anger over the past two decades has focused on the West’s humiliation of Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union 31 years ago and NATO’s subsequent expansion eastward. protect countries like Poland that suffered during the Cold War under Moscow. totalitarian domination.
But the Russian leader has clearly developed his outrage into a consumerist worldview of American cruelty. What this will mean militarily in the coming years remains to be seen.
“Nearly everywhere, in many regions of the world, where the United States applies its law and order, this has created bloody, incurable and verbal wounds,” Putin said. curse of international terrorism and extremism. America’s global behavior is “deceptive”.
He continued: “One can therefore say with good reason and with confidence that the entire so-called Western bloc established by the United States in its own image and likeness is, on the whole, is an ’empire of lies’.”
Mr. Putin seems oblivious to the fact that the choreography during the Russian invasion is one of those extraordinary, if predictable, twofold.
It includes baseless accusations of “humiliation and genocide” perpetrated by the “Kyiv regime”; Russia’s recognition of the independence of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk so that these “people’s republics” can ask “Russia for help”; and declared that Russia was therefore within its rights, under the United Nations Charter, to respond to a request for assistance by sending troops to “demilitarize and de-nationalize Ukraine.”
In the end, Mr. Putin did not seem to hesitate to order Russia to invade Ukraine. He accused the authorities in Kyiv – all Nazi usurpers in his view – of having ambitions to “get nuclear weapons” because of an inevitable “squatch” with Russia.
He seems to have forgotten that Ukraine used to have a huge nuclear arsenal before it abandoned it in 1994 under an agreement known as the Budapest Memorandum. Russia is one of the signatories of the accord, which promises in return that it will never use force or threats against Ukraine and will respect its sovereignty and existing borders.
Too much for that.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/ukraine-invasion-russia-putin-nuclear-war-nato.html Beyond Ukraine, the target is what Putin calls America’s ‘Empire of Lies’