Putin on the Edge of Starting a War

First off, here are a couple of articles I found extremely helpful to sort out the historical and political relationship of Ukraine and Russia. See How the West Gets Ukraine Wrong — and Helps Putin As a Result by Rory Finnin at Politico and The increasingly complicated Russia-Ukraine crisis, explained by Jen Kirby and Jonathan Guyer at Vox. And see also Six ways Russia views Ukraine — and why each should worry the West by Robyn Dixon at WaPo. I hope especially that those of you with more knowledge of that part of the world will take a look and share your opinions.

Now we’re in the “was this the invasion?” phase of the crisis. What’s happened so far is either the beginning of the invasion or a feint meant to achieve concessions. But if the latter, it’s not working.

I was a bit surprised to learn that Germany has, apparently, killed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. “The $11 billion pipeline is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia to Germany and it was completed late last year. But German regulators had yet to give the green light to the pipeline to officially allow it to operate.” Putin probably was not expecting that. President Biden appears to have done a good job pulling the NATO powers together.

My sense of things is that this is all about Putin’s inner demons and his need for power.

Someone on teevee last night said that Russia is essentially a big gas station. Its GDP is much smaller than California’s. It’s not investing in innovation. Its economy is seriously not diverse. What it has is oil and natural gas, and energy profits are enjoyed mostly by the oligarchic class. Two-thirds of its exports are either petroleum or its distillates, it says here. The compulsion to annex a former Soviet member is both a means to distract citizens from their economic deprivations and to put the world on notice that Russia is still a world power. This could backfire on Putin eventually, but not before he has caused a lot of suffering.

Your thoughts?