Now Russia’s former Foreign Minister Andrei Vladimirovich Kozyrev (70) has joined the debate about Putin’s state of mind and his threat of a nuclear attack. “To make a long story short, I don’t think Russia will use nuclear weapons and I think Putin is a rational actor,” explained a lengthy thread on Twitter.
Kozyrev held the post of foreign minister under Boris Yeltsin’s government from 1990 to early 1996. Because of his willingness to compromise towards the West and towards NATO, he was violently attacked in the Russian parliament at the time – and ended up being dismissed. Today Kozyrew lives in Miami, USA.
Putin will at least not intentionally use nuclear weapons against the West. At most, indiscriminate shelling near a nuclear power plant could “trigger an unwanted nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine.”
The threat of nuclear war proves Putin’s rationality. The Kremlin can only wrest concessions from Ukraine and the West if it plays “its last remaining card”, namely the threat of nuclear weapons. Therefore, fearing a nuclear war, the West should not make unilateral concessions or limit its support for Ukraine too much.
Contrary to many people in the West, Kozyrev does not consider Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine to be irrational: “It is appalling, but not irrational.”
Three convictions of Putin were decisive for the invasion. They concern the state of Ukraine as a country, the state of the Russian military and the geopolitical situation in the West.
Regarding Putin’s reflections on Ukraine, Kozyrev explains: “Putin has spent the past 20 years believing that Ukraine is not a real nation and should at best be a satellite state. The Euromaidan (protests in late 2013/early 2014 in Ukraine) ended any hope of keeping Ukraine independent and pro-Kremlin.” Putin thought the West was behind it.
If the Ukrainian government cannot be kept pro-Kremlin, it must be forced to do so. Putin “also began to believe his own propagandists that Ukraine is being ruled by a Nazi Bandera junta. A perfect pretext for the ‘denazification’ of Ukraine.
Regarding the state of the Russian military, the former foreign minister says:
“The Kremlin has spent the past 20 years modernizing its military. A large part of this budget was stolen and spent on mega yachts in Cyprus. But as a military adviser, you can’t report that to the president. So instead they gave him lies. Potemkin military”
Finally, as far as Western perceptions are concerned, Russian leaders believe their own propaganda that US President Joe Biden is “mentally incompetent”. “She also thought the EU was weak because its 2014 sanctions were toothless. And then the US botched its withdrawal from Afghanistan, which reinforced that narrative.”
Therefore, for someone who believes all three points to be true and at the same time wants to “restore the glory of the Russian Empire”, the invasion of Ukraine makes perfect sense. Putin miscalculated on all three points, “but that doesn’t drive him crazy. It’s just wrong and immoral.”