This is going to get interesting, I think. I also think it's going to get ugly. Seth Abramson has a few thoughts on the matter.
I wrote a book on the first Russian invasion of Ukraine (Proof of Corruption, 2020), then took to Twitter to say that the evidence we see now—and all we know about Putin—suggests he’ll invade again. For some reason, folks got angry. Well, see what happens.
First on CNN: US intelligence indicates Russia preparing operation to justify invasion of Ukraine The US has information that indicates Russia has prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine, a US official told CNN on Friday, in an attempt to create a p… https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/14/politics/us-intelligence-russia-false-flag/index.html
(PS) Putin’s scheme in Ukraine is *so transparently obvious* that not only is it apocalyptically condescending that he’s going through certain motions to pretend he won’t invade, but it’s almost *as* condescending that the federal government keeps telling us this can be avoided.
(PS2) The sort of actions that would be required to prevent Russia from invading Europe for the second time in a decade are just the sort of actions no one in the federal government is willing to take. NATO should have been *melodramatically expanding itself* this entire decade.
(PS3) The international community is always in reactive mode with Putin—it underreacts and hopes for the best. It assumes Putin won’t want to cause economic pain to his country. *Nothing* in his makeup suggests this is true.
His adventurism is about “regaining” land—at any cost.
(PS4) Putin understands strength—period. Trump was the weakest American president since the late 19th c., and Putin gobbled it up. He was afraid of Clinton precisely *because* she’s strong. You show weakness to this monster, and he obliterates you. How do we not know this by now?
(PS5) Ukraine is the largest European country. Putin is poised to invade it twice in a decade and steal 14% of its land area. How the *hell* is this not a red line for the democratic West? Why do we think *sanctions* work on a strongman who doesn’t care if his people live or die?
(PS6) Putin will invade Europe—again—with nothing even qualifying as a *pretext*—again—and be sanctioned—again—and then negotiate the sanctions away in five years when he has found something else to threaten the West with. This is his mode: he’s a sociopath who will *never* stop.
(PS7) So either the Biden administration should *admit* that no one in the federal government, whether Congress or the White House, has any stomach to stand up to Putin in a meaningful and results-oriented way, or it should start *acting* like Putin is the global threat he *is*.
(PS8) All the evidence on Putin’s intentions is that he’s obsessed with reconstituting the land area of the Soviet Union—if not its political structure (needless to say, he *infinitely* prefers autocracy to communism).
In Kazakhstan, in Georgia, in Ukraine, the pattern is clear.
(PS9) Right now the *only* thing that could *significantly* forestall an invasion of Ukraine—and this is very unlikely—is if Putin sees the prospects of gaining de facto power over Kazakhstan as so high that he decides he wants to focus on that nation for now instead of Ukraine.
(PS10) I suppose I would add, as a secondary matter, that Putin might consider postponing an invasion of Ukraine if it becomes clear to him that the GOP taking the House and impeaching (but not convicting) Biden in 2023 will so weaken Biden that it presages a 2024 Trump victory.
(PS11) What dealing with Vladimir Putin requires is staying ahead of him at all times, forcing him to be in a reactive posture rather than the opposite. If the United States had been pushing NATO to expand eastward for two decades, Putin would be negotiating with *us* to stop it.