Maybe Russia's interests regarding Ukraine are simpler than you think

See also: Putin’s cat and mouse game with Ukraine

The famous Prussian general and military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz stated in his seminal work "On War" that "[w]ar is the continuation of politics by other means."

Aside from our internal and external weakness and timidity as a nation, which precipitated the current standoff with Russia, what exactly are the political goals that Vladimir Putin wants to achieve by invading Ukraine?  What are the issues at stake that would cause him to commit his forces to potentially the largest invasion since the end of World War II?

I doubt that if a large-scale conflict does occur between the United States and Russia, Americans will be prepared to face the most certain cyber-attacks that will target the key nodes of our infrastructure.  I suspect that many Americans would have a meltdown if they were unable to access Facebook or watch their favorite TikTok videos!

I have not seen or heard much about the political issues at stake — other than that Putin views the fall of the Soviet Union as a huge disaster and wants at some point to restore its former glory.  But he is also angry (and rightly so, I would agree) with the expansion of NATO into former Soviet bloc countries — a move designed to rub his nose into the collapse.  So then when Ukraine started making advances about joining NATO, I believe that in his mind, that move was the last straw.  It would be akin to Canada or Mexico joining the Warsaw Pact if it still existed.  I do not believe we as a nation would have stood for that.

So it would have been easy, and it still is easy for us to say to defuse the ongoing confrontation.  Just say, "Putin, you are right — Ukraine will not be allowed into NATO."  Let's quit poking the bear and let him have his "victory."  Let us take the long view that in the end will prove more beneficial to the United States and the cause of freedom.  Putin will eventually be gone and, hopefully, then we can deal with a new and maybe more enlightened leader — but in the meantime, the West can still bolster democratic institutions inside Ukraine.

When this occurs, maybe then the Russian people will see the possibilities, once they have a close neighbor thriving with a democratic government and free-market economy.  That's how the free world "wins" ultimately.  One only has to look at the disparity between South Korea vs North Korea to see that it is easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.  Let's hope cool heads prevail, and we do not stumble into a confrontation where no one "wins."

Image via Pixabay.

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