Russia has already lost

An interesting discussion tonight with a well-informed friend on the situation in the Ukraine. He argues that in the grand scheme of things the West is currently well in the lead and Russia is making the best of a bad position.

His hypothesis is essentially as follows.

  • UkraineThe best position for Russia would be to have a Russia friendly / client state Ukraine as a buffer between themselves and the West. After this a neutral Ukraine would be a second choice.
  • It looks as though the Ukraine is actually moving towards the West.
  • Even if Russia annexes the Crimea and the Don Basin, the response of the rest of the Ukraine will be to closely ally with the West. EU membership and perhaps even belonging to NATO is on the cards. This would mean that instead of the Ukraine being a buffer, the borders of the West would be right up against Russia.
  • Given this, Russia is playing the best of a bad hand by taking the crumbs it can get now before even they fall out of its hands, but in reality they have pretty well lost (barring marching into Kiev and setting up a puppet state in Ukraine).

Interesting. I think he may have a point.

2 Comments on “Russia has already lost

  1. The tragedy of Russia’s position in the world is that her leaders continue to try to maintain her position by bribery (literally and with gas) and creating fear by force (Abkhazia, Crimea, Transdniestra, etc.) instead of winning friends who admire her profound novels, stunning scenery, advanced mathematics, etc. All over the world, there are people studying hard and saving up because they want to work in LA, live in London, love in Paris… The Korean wave has swept Asia… People only want to live in Russia because they are afraid of the bogeyman Russia has created.

  2. An old D.C.work acquaintance had this interesting take today i his post on Forbes.com, pointing to the warm water port and the insolvency of Ukraine. (His post was primarily about Obama):
    “Current events in Crimea are unlikely to destroy Obama’s achievement. While Kiev, understandably, and the West express alarm … what’s happening now in Ukraine presents more as chess rather than hand grenades. Putin is an autocrat (and geopolitical chess grandmaster), yet no brutal tyrant in the Stalin mode. Russian military intervention in Crimea appears based on securing a fundamental Russian asset — its sole warm water port — and protection of ethnic Russians living there.
    “President Reagan’s stated reason for invading Grenada (and deposing the government there, something Putin studiedly has not shown signs of attempting in Ukraine) was to protect 800 American medical students. Putin is not neo-imperialist. This predicament is likely to end with a Russian-led bailout of an insolvent Ukraine. The severe difficulties in Ukraine shall pass without reigniting the Cold War.”

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