His Special Military Operation may have prevented World War III
The West is by now very used to condemning Russia for its “unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine. Every Western media outlet, every politician, every pundit and poster is now in the habit of automatically inserting the word “unprovoked” into every mention of the Ukrainian conflict.
But that narrative is simply not true, and any person with even a cursory knowledge of the history of NATO and Russia over the past 30 years knows that we have witnessed three decades of uninterrupted, incessant provocation of Russia by the West.
But let’s be real — “provocation” in this case is a euphemism. What we are really talking about are threats to Russia and its sovereignty, if not its very survival.
Those threats have been ratcheted up radically since 2014, to the point where Russia was seeing an existential threat developing in the way that NATO and the USA were turning Ukraine into a NATO partner.
And yet, Western leaders refused to recognise the looming threat of war. They refused to take Putin seriously. They refused to LISTEN. But those who knew and understood the situation, from the likes of Henry Kissinger and George F. Kennan, knew that the actions of the U.S. and its allies were leading the world towards disaster.
As Thomas Hodgson writes in Foreign Affairs Review:
“Not one inch eastward” was the assurance given by US Secretary of State James Baker to Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9th, 1990. Seven years onward, former ambassador to the Soviet Union and architect of many American Cold War policies, George Kennan declared NATO’s expansion to be “the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-Cold War era.” Since this proclamation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has grown to encompass twelve former socialist republics.
Avoiding disaster through pre-emptive action
Putin’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine, however, avoided such a larger and much more dangerous general conflict with the West.
Had Putin not invaded when he did, then the Ukrainians would have continued to build their armed forces, just as they had been doing furiously over the previous 8 years since the 2014 Maidan Coup installed a pro-NATO, pro-Western government in Kiev.
Indeed, we now know from the confessions of Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko that the Minsk Accords, which they negotiated with Putin in 2014 and 2015, were specifically designed to “buy time” and allow the Ukraine to train more soldiers, import more weapons and generally prepare for a war with Russia.
Eventually, Ukraine would have become strong enough to invade and try to recapture not just the Donbas region, which was occupied by pro-Russian Ukrainian “rebels”, but also the region of Crimea, which became part of Russia in 2014.
That would have led immediately to an all-out war with Russia, one which would have quickly involved NATO.
Crimea is critically important to Russia for many reasons. First, Crimea is host to Russia’s largest naval base, the Home of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol. There is no way that Russia would have risked having that critically important base fall into NATO hands. And that would have been the case. Indeed, Ukraine is already universally acknowledged — by Russia, by the Ukraine, and even by NATO itself — to be a de facto NATO member. It has NATO training camps; its armed forces are trained to NATO standards of interoperability; the weapons it uses are either directly from NATO members and are up to NATO specifications. Ukraine is even holding joint training exercises and drills with the U.S. and NATO.
What is an SMO? Words have meaning
We must remember that Russia did not call their move into Ukraine an invasion, nor do they call it a war. They call it a Special Military Operation (SMO), which carries with it certain limitations and certain prohibitions designed to prevent the conflict from becoming a larger war. In fact, Putin listed three main objectives of the SMO, and once these are achieved, the SMO will be shut down (supposedly) without expanding to a larger conflict.
Remember also that Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and the population in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to be part of Russia. Thus, Russia and Putin consider Crimea to be as much part of Russia as is Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Had Ukraine attacked Crimea, that would have been seen by the Kremlin as a direct attack against Russia, on Russian territory, and it would have prompted a full-scale response from Moscow. Putin would not have had a choice: his general staff as well as the people’s representatives in the Duma would have demanded an immediate and overwhelming military response.
It would have been all-out war. And for Russia, that would have meant war not just against Ukraine, but against the forces that were arming, training, supplying and aiding Ukraine — NATO.
Such a conflict would have quickly escalated and quite possibly would have led to a World War Three.
I know this sounds crazy, but …
By launching his SMO at a time when he could rush to occupy the Donbas and keep Crimea off the table, Vladimir Putin may have saved the world.
EuroYankee is a dual citizen, US-EU. He travels around Europe, writing on politics, culture and such. He pays his US taxes so he gets to weigh in on what is happening in the States.