Why did Vladimir Putin start this war to take Ukraine?
I’ve heard and read a dozen theories about why he started this evil venture, which now appears to be both madness and failure. I think that a year ago or even a decade ago this invasion would not have seemed foolish to him because he was so blinded by what he saw as his destiny and his foes’ weakness.
Putin grew up in the Cold War in the Soviet Union. His college was the KGB, which hated the West. He was stationed in East Germany when the Berlin Wall was pulled down, and it seemed like that sowed the seeds of revenge for the humbling of the Russia he loved.
Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states dumped Russia as soon as they dared. Those events must have sickened him and left him with a burning rage. It appeared to grow as he got older and he shrewdly seized more power year by year. Putin never seemed to mellow with age.
The KGB experience taught him to mistrust everybody. It also seems to have inculcated in him the belief that everybody could be corrupted and those who sought power and wealth were the easiest to corrupt and blackmail.
His corrupting of the German head of state, Gerhard Schroeder, must have reinforced this belief as he attempted to weaken Germany, the strongest European country economically, by making it almost totally dependent on Russian natural gas with the Nordstream pipelines.
After Schroeder left government, he became the economic head of the Nordsteam company, though Putin and his henchmen held the real power. It was the ultimate buying of a prominent politician, and it must have confirmed Putin’s belief that he could own anybody by putting enough money in their pockets
Putin’s cynicism about Europe and America is limitless. He surrounds himself with KGB types, sycophants, and oligarchs who owe him their wealth and power.
The photo of Putin sitting at the head of an endless table with generals and spies at the other end became the symbol of his regime. He isolated himself in his castle like a czar. He listened only to people who saw the world like he did. His observations of the prosperous Western countries surely galled him as his lust for power and revenge festered.
Russia took over Crimea in Ukraine in 2014 and then a Russian speaking region after that. If he could capture Ukraine, with its agricultural resources and its Black Sea port of Odessa, he would be well on his way to putting the Soviet Union back together. The Baltics would be pushovers. America was divided with no taste for war. The Afghanistan pull out only confirmed that view. NATO countries were captives to Russian energy exports and intimidated by his nuclear bombs and missiles as he saw it.
It must have seemed like the perfect time to invade Ukraine. Its head of state was an actor and former comedian, almost a perfect counterpoint compared to Putin, the virile shirtless horseman.
Putin trucked 150,000 troops into Ukraine and nobody raised a finger in Europe or America. NATO did nothing. It was all so easy.
Then it all fell apart. Zelinsky stood up to the bully. Ukraine did not fold or give up. Zelinsky did not flee. Putin’s army was soft, and his tanks were the helpless elephants of WWII. All Russia could do was shoot missiles at civilian targets, kill helpless people, and destroy cities.
Overnight, Vladimir Putin became the new Hitler. Western countries attacked the Russian economy with potent sanctions. He became a pathetic a joke. His reputation was shattered and the weaknesses of Russia—rampant alcoholism, an average lifespan of 10 years less than the rest of Europe, a bankrupt army, poorly led unmotivated soldiers, and a war criminal running the country—became obvious.
Vladimir Putin is finished as a world leader. He is a victim of his own folly, blinded by a pathetic desire to avenge the demise of the Soviet Union. Suicide is a more likely ending for him than a trial as a war criminal.
Question: How do you think the war in Ukraine will play out?