Monday, January 24, 2022


Ukraine, in the West, has a lot of followers and few suitors. Like anyone or anything that came too close to Moscow, it is cursed. Its citizens pay the price for years of structural corruption and unfortunate geography. That joint journey in history, too close to Moscow, left Ukraine with a perverse chip on the shoulder .

All these ingredients combined are catnip for Putin. He knows what he wants.  His playing for time shouldn't hide the harsh reality. Ukraine will only be what he allows it to be. He will not be deterred by diplomatic finesse or sanctions. He knows too well that Kiev remains largely an unwelcome intrusion in the current, mostly economic, US and EU preoccupations

Most Ukranians are opposed to Russia. They would prefer to be considered part of the EU and NATO. Moscow has already made certain that such an outcome is, once and for all, off the table. The US is sending sophisticated weaponry and is starting to make stronger statements, which are supposed to rectify President Biden's soliloqui last week.  Nothing transpired after the Blinken/Lavrov meeting in Geneva. The Russian side continues to demand Washington's written reply regarding Ukraine's future. The trap is laid but the Americans are smart enough to forego the bait.

Former formulas (Normandy format, Minsk, summitry) all failed. The energy crisis plays further into Putin's hands. The "hard" noise coming out of London and Berlin is yet another cause for derision for Moscow. 

Sanctions will certainly hurt and could well make Russia a pariah in the international monetary and financial systems. Count on the Chinese to alleviate the inconvenience.

The Russian federation remains a poor country. It compensates the lack of quality by an overdose of quantity in all forms. The West might look like a pathetic observer but the Russians must be incredulous when confronted with the cost of an ambition in a country where the GDP doesn't even come close to that of Italy. 

In the end, Putin might find the considered overdrive too costly after all. He may prefer an inglorious status quo to an incertain prospect whivh might sink his economy and his standing. The Ukranians would fight after all...and only that is certain. It is doubtful that Putin wants the world to remember other past Soviet "incursions" in Budapest and Prague.


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