As Patreon has learned, poking the big bear is never a good idea.
QUESTION: At present, there are roughly 40,000 US-NATO troops massed along the Russian border conducting military exercises while scores of Russian tanks, artillery and an estimated 85,000 Russian troops are now located about 25 miles from Ukraine’s eastern border. Both armies are on hair-trigger alert and prepared for any sudden provocation. If the Ukrainian Army invades the Russian-speaking region of Ukraine (Donbas), Moscow will likely respond.
So, will there be a conflagration in the Ukraine this spring and, if so, how will Putin respond? Will he limit the scope of his campaign to the Donbas or push onward to Kiev?
ISRAEL SHAMIR: If the Russian army crosses the Ukrainian border, it won’t stop in the Donbas. The war will be brief and the Ukraine will be split into pieces. But will it happen?
Russia’s totem animal, the Bear, is a strong and peaceful animal that is not easily aroused, but once provoked, it is unstoppable. Russian rulers have typically fit this image. They weren’t adventurous, but level-headed and prudent. Putin, who is the quintessential Russian ruler, is risk-averse. He won’t start a war he never wanted to begin with, but he will act decisively if he needs to do so. Consider 2014, after the Ukrainian coup: the lawful Ukrainian president Mr Yanukovich ran to Russia and asked Putin to help him regain power. At that time, the Ukrainian army was weak and Russia could have easily retaken the country without facing any significant resistance. But, surprisingly, Putin did not give the order to take Kiev.
Putin is unpredictable. He ordered the seizure of Crimea despite the counsel of his advisors. It was an unexpected move, and it worked like a charm. He also pummeled Georgia in 2008 after Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia. This was another surprise move that succeeded better than anyone could have imagined. If the Ukrainians try to retake Donbas, the Russian army will beat them badly and continue on to Kiev. The presence of NATO’s troops will not deter Putin.
As for the Democrats, they can push Kiev to attack, but they will end up losing the Ukraine in the process. If the point is to poison relations between Russia and Europe, they can try to do so, but if they think the Russo-Ukrainian war is going to drag on, they’re mistaken. And if they think Putin won’t defend the Donbas, they’ve made a serious miscalculation.
I think Shamir's perspective on the neoclowns is correct. Being bigtime bluffers themselves - literally everything they do is a bluff - they can't imagine that everyone else isn't bluffing. So, they assume that Putin is going to either back down, or at most, defend the Donbas in the same way South Ossetia was defended.
However, Putin and the Russian people now have considerably more experience of the neoclown foreign policy and better understand what Clownworld is. This was the key phrase of the interview, in my opinion: Russians think that a big war is unavoidable, so it’s probably better to have the Ukraine under Moscow’s control before that war breaks out. The US is an enemy; that is the feeling in Russia.