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Russian President Vladimir Putin has sounded the alarm over the US-led NATO alliance. Putin describes it as the “enemy” on Russia’s doorstep, threatening the beleaguered homeland – which only Putin can defend.
But the alliance is instead made up of Russia’s sovereign, free and democratic neighbors committed to the principles of freedom and freedom, each determined to counter Russia’s economic predation and malign political influence – which pose the greatest threat to the security of the Putin’s regime.
What scares Vladimir Putin the most? It has always been democracy, especially in the former Soviet Union, whose collapse Putin called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE CRISIS – TIME FOR BIDEN TO SURPRISE PUTIN
This is why Ukraine has been besieged with increasing intensity by cyber, economic and military attacks from the Kremlin since 2014, when Russia started supporting separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region with military and material support and illegally annexed Crimea. Nothing threatens Putin’s regime’s security more than Ukraine, a democratic neighbor with a bright economic future and a large Russian-speaking population.
In a throwback to an eerily similar rationale used by Hitler to annex the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia, Putin justified the Crimean referendum and his decision this week to send troops thinly disguised as ‘peacekeepers’ ostensibly to defend the ethnically Russian population of Ukraine.
Russia’s aggression has only increased NATO’s commitment to mutual defence, with proportionate deployments of troops and military equipment to NATO’s most vulnerable members on the border. Russian. In Putin’s world, a strong NATO in conflict with Russia lends credence to his propaganda myth that only he, the KGB agent in the Kremlin, can defend Russia against Russia’s pernicious enemies.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will cost the Russian economy dearly in terms of lost trade, sanctions and significant budgetary resources devoted to the Donbass region, just as it did to Crimea, including the construction of the Kerch Straight Bridge as well as South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
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But for Russia, which reportedly lost 1% of its GDP as a result of Western sanctions in 2014, ensuring the security of Putin’s regime is worth it, even if it makes Russia more subservient to China for imports of its hydrocarbons. And so much the better if the Ukrainian crisis leads to an increase in oil and gas prices, which can offset some of these losses.
Make no mistake about it, Putin aims above all for the territorial integrity of Ukraine but also by extension the EU, NATO, and more specifically Russia’s “main enemy”, the United States. Putin wants to demonstrate that the West is an unreliable ally, which failed to prevent Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014; massive cyberattacks on Ukrainian media, power grid and ministries; and the repeated violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
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Putin cannot allow Ukraine to succeed as a democracy, which would serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for his own domestic opponents who are denied basic civil liberties, including freedom of speech and meeting. Putin’s long-term goal is the destruction of Ukraine as a state.
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