If Putin takes Kyiv and all of Ukraine, he could set up a puppet government and leave the country again. A promising way to avoid a guerrilla war?
I doubt, first, that such a government could be effective, and second, that his government could survive such a departure. In addition, he has said repeatedly that he wants to rebuild power in his country and has made enormous investments in this attempt. Barring a miracle, prolonged guerrilla warfare and uprisings may be inevitable.
Should Russia conquer Ukraine, would that be a good starting point for further wars, for example against Poland or the Baltic States?
Geographically, yes. Especially when Putin, as is currently the case, has Belarus on his side. But it’s not just a matter of geography. Rather, the problem facing NATO is how to convince the Kremlin that it is determined to defend Eastern Europe by any means possible.
Those neighboring countries of Russia that belong to NATO have not yet been attacked by Russia. Joining NATO seems to have paid off for them.
Until now yes. As for the future, who knows?
Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 and renounced nuclear weapons. A mistake in retrospect?
No. The relevant control mechanisms were located in Moscow, so the weapons would have been useless to Ukraine anyway. Building a new, independent nuclear deterrent would have been like putting the proverbial red rag under the bull’s nose.
Based on Putin’s words and deeds: What was his goal when entering the war? Because he will become the protecting power of all Slavs and redefine the principles of international politics?
He borrowed his worldview from Stalin, who in turn borrowed it from some Russian nationalists of the mid-19th century. Russia has always been backward and was seen as such from abroad (most recently with regard to the vaccine against Corona developed by Russia).
Because it was backward, it was defeated again and again: first by the Vikings, then by the Mongols, then by the Turks, then by the Poles, then by the Swedes, then by the French, then by the Anglo-French, then by the Germans (twice in a single century). Every conqueror came and did what conquerors do: kill, plunder and rape. The final blow came in 1990, when American machinations – under the guise of “globalization” – brought about the downfall of the Soviet Union, undoing everything they had achieved in 1941-45 at a truly terrible cost.
Putin was already threatening to use nuclear weapons more or less directly. Should we take the threat seriously? Should we be afraid?
Fear? No. Fear is always a bad advisor. But seriously, yes. The situation calls for very careful and very sophisticated diplomacy, such as that used in the Berlin Crisis of 1958-91 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
In the past you have pointed out the deterrent and thus peace-building function of nuclear weapons. NATO against Russia – in view of the nuclear weapons, that sounds more like a doomsday scenario.
Do you know what the beauty of nuclear weapons is? If they are not used, there is no need to worry. If they are used, there is no need to worry either. That applies to Putin just as much as to anyone else.
After the Cold War, Europe seems to have believed in peace without arms. What about Russia now?
With pants down. With populations that value comfort above all and do not want to fight. Never again war! And with armed forces that have been badly neglected for years, if not decades. Not to mention feminists who wanted to transform the military from fighting machines into kindergartens.
As Clausewitz says, pacifism is all well and good. Until someone comes, and they will, and cuts off your head.
Do economic sanctions make sense? What should Europe do now?
In principle they make sense. But don’t promise yourself too much. Russians can do without almost anything except vodka. But even its consumption has declined in recent years.
Should Europe invest in an “extended deterrence” approach? Now what should it do?
To me, “enhanced deterrence” seems to mean that non-enhanced deterrence as it currently exists is worthless. Don’t you agree?
The most immediate step NATO can take is to move additional troops to the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. After that we will see.
Russia has few young men. Is that a problem because then Putin will incur the wrath of widows and mothers?
Mothers can indeed get rowdy, as happened here in Israel during the First Lebanon War. But don’t you overlook the fact that the birth rate in Germany is even lower than in Russia?
Falling empires are considered to be particularly unpredictable. Do Russia’s internal weaknesses pose a greater threat to the world than its strengths?
That’s exactly right. In a way, that’s what Putin himself says. You in the west, he says, have exploited our weakness for 30 years. But enough is enough.