Like many of you my loyal readers, I have an opinion of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. To say the least I don’t like him, never have, never will.
Apparently Biden doesn’t like him either and sees the latest crisis in the Ukraine as something akin to empire expansion. But apparently Biden doesn’t appreciate Russian History enough to understand not just where Putin is coming from, but what the Russians themselves truly believe is their goal of preservation by creating a buffer from European incursions. They need a buffer in their minds because history after all ends up repeating itself.
Buffer from the west could lead ultimately to his downfall.
Like it or not, Kiev is the ancient capital of Ukrainians, but also of the Russians. Furthermore, the Russians hold that Ukrainians and Russians are one people* as Putin himself elaborated on at length this summer. You are free not to like this, but it doesn’t change what the Russians sincerely feel.
Now, a quick history lesson into Russia’s past. I understand where Putin is coming from because he is after all is said and done a preservationist. I took a class in Russian and Soviet History in high school so that I could understand better their mindset. Why are the Russians the way they are? And why are they so big in the geographic sense?
The answer is simple. The Mongol horde that invaded from the east was why. The Mongols saw fit to invade and destroy, rape and pillage the Russians’ ancient capital, Kiev and what is now called Moscow. When they left the Russians benefited by expanding their territories east. Now they were protected against those countries over there.
When Peter the Great came on the scene he sought to make Russia a great empire that rivaled the super powers of that time, France, Spain and Britain. He not only modernized the Russian Army and created a navy, he also expanded westwardly, offering more security for its capital. In hindsight it was almost prophetic in that two events occurred later that seemingly fitted his “greatness.”
Firstly, there was the Swedish invasion led by Christian XII. The vastness of Russia wore down the invaders who were eventually defeated at Poltava. Secondly, Napoleon’s failure was possible, in part, because Kutuzov had room to retreat, wearing down the superior French army.
Of course, the Nazi invasion in 1941 in which Hitler only learned one thing that Napoleon did not possess, Armor and aircraft which he was only partially successful, but once again, the Russian winter proved a fatal flaw in Hitler’s calculations.
This made it obvious that the buffer zone need be big. Consequently, the states of East-Central Europe would end-up paying the price. They became satellites of the Soviet Union. If the West would ever try to invade the heartland again, there would be plenty of time to mobilize.
To the issue facing us now. Once again, just as after World War One, their buffer has shrunk. The former Warsaw Pact, dissolved and deserted to NATO, a geo-political rival, and the only thing standing in the way of them invading Russia is Ukraine.
It’s seems a bit oxymoronic because most every European nation has put most of their military eggs into one basket, a nuclear arsenal that recognizes no buffers or borders should it come to this conclusion. It is also a sobering reminder to everyone involved in this crisis that if Putin is pushed, he wouldn’t hesitate to use his nuclear arsenal.
Last week, Russia sent the United States a list of its demands for defusing the crisis: a binding promise that Ukraine will never become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, plus the removal of all NATO troops and weapons from 14 Eastern European countries that have joined the alliance since 1997.
Is it unreasonable? Not to Putin and most every Russian citizen who looks westward with a certain degree of apprehension. If the shoe was on our foot, how would we react if say, Canada or Mexico had as much military and economic power as us and became if not belligerent than downright uncompromising in making certain demands on us, including possible invasion of our borders. We too would want a buffer to protect ourselves from their influences.
While I don’t particularly like Putin, but from the lessons of history, I see where he is coming from. Biden needs to respect this as well, even if it means allowing Ukraine back into the arms of Mother Russia.