My outsider perspective of Ukraine crisis is different from what you might read elsewhere and that is why I thought I will put it down.
Democratic and free societies always appear chaotic and the battle of ideas constantly rages on in full public display. The closed societies appear far more orderly and disciplined and the trains might run on time. As time goes by the democratic societies figure out what works and what does not, and the good ideas win. Not necessarily because the people understand the worth of ideas but because people acting in self interest figure out what works for them.
In closes societies only few can afford the freedom of choice. Both choice of products and choice of ideas is denied to the weakest in the society. Public transport determines where you can travel and when. Ration shops decide what you will eat and import export restrictions determine what your will wear.
People often mistake the lack of choice as order and discipline and mistake the chaos of democratic societies as bomb waiting to explode. Nearly invariable it is the democratic society that gets stronger and the closed societies explode.
Anatomy of Ukraine crisis
A lot of conspiracy theories are being floated around about Nordstream 2 to Hunter Biden’s Ukranian connection around this crisis. Nearly all these theories assume that NATO and USA are unitary actors and rational agents capable of co-ordinating to take rational decisions. This is completely false. Germany and USA can not agree on laundry list of sanctions on Russia, they can barely create a coherent strategy against Kremlin.
Ukraine is an organic democracy. It is not controlled by US department of state as Tucker Carlson might suggest. What is the clue ? They elected a comedian as their president. A comedian who has risen up to the challenge and has become a hero of freedom who has made Biden, Trudeau etc. appear like bunch of wussies. Only organic democracies can pick leaders like these. Think of another large nation electing a tea vendor who has become the most popular leader in the history of that nation. If Ukrainian president was foreign educated, red wine sipping elite the claim that he is a US puppet would have made sense. He would have also surrendered and fled his country at the first available opportunity.
Average Ukrainians correctly see Russian state and Russian affiliation as a losers club. No Ukrainian wants to live in the police state of Russia and they are infatuated by the prospects of joining EU. Joining EU will bring them prosperity and highlight failures of Putin’s failed state. Hence Putin wants to stop it.
This is at the core of Ukrainian crisis and everything else is just purely incidental to it.
NATO is more competent that people claim and Putin is less competent than what we think of him.
The battle between NATO and Putin is not battle of two powers. It is a battle of a complex democratic voluntary system vs an autocrat. Putin has the advantage of moving faster but he is blindsided by lack of feedback and opinions.
NATO for long had become impotent. Long peace had made them focus more on climate change and gender justice. Climate change hysteria had made their nations energy dependent. All this worked fine as long they never had to face a real threat. Most politicians in democratic nations dream of returning on a lake front or ocean front home. For Putin that is not an option. He has to constantly look over his shoulder.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was predicted correctly by US intelligence. Unlike the weapons of mass destruction fiasco, this intelligence was spot on and Biden was right to take it to public making it as transparent as possible. As expected no one believed them and thought this was another instance of crying wolf by the war mongers of USA.
One must realize that Biden administration had no options here. He had to hope that Putin will change his mind once he realizes that Biden has exposed his plans. If Putin had indeed changed his plans, critics of Biden would have blamed Biden for raising a false alarm. Now the same critics are blaming Biden for not doing enough or not acting tough enough.
Either ways Biden had much to lose politically and he took the right decision. Not because he is a better person but that is how the US systems are designed. Trump or Obama or Bush would have done nearly the same thing.
Putin decides to invade nevertheless.
We would never know why Putin took this decision but once this invasion begins you have to aks why options did the west have ? One option was to fully mobilize NATO and face Russia head on in Ukraine. This would mean Putin either backs down or Ukraine and half of Europe is entirely destroyed, it would also mean end of Russia as we know it and millions of dead people. While it is easy for keyboard warriors like us to talk about it, its real world consequences would have been costly even for Ukraine.
The other option was to stay outside Ukraine and let Ukraine face Russia alone. This limits the scope of the war, there is a small probability that Ukraine actually survives but Russia get weaker due to the war. A weaker Russia means NATO have greater advantage in future.
The best case scenario for Putin becomes worse case scenario.
The best case scenario for Putin was that Ukrainian army folds in 24 hours, president runs away, Russia installs their own president and Russian forces withdraw. None of this happened and Putin is facing the worse case scenario. Russia is looking at massive war, prolonged occupation and a Ukrainian nation that is united and has proved beyond doubt that they want to align with NATO and EU.
This has also nudged Sweden and Finland to finally take a clue. Unreliable Russian allies such as India are doubling down on decoupling themselves from Russian defense dependence.
Putin said he wants to demilitarize Ukraine. As of now Russia has lost more weapons on Ukraine and everyone in Ukraine is armed with automatic rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Can Putin take Kyiv ? 48 hours ago was it was not “if” but “when”. Now it is not clear of Putin can take Kyiv.
Senior State Department official has said:
“Russia has badly mismanaged the planning for this operation. Their logistics trains are poorly organized, morale is bad, and they are totally unprepared for urban warfare in Ukrainian cities.”
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) February 26, 2022
NATO gets to do much needed course correction
The big winner of this conflict is NATO. We saw how outraged your average European was. They finally got out of their slumber and now they might dump their e-scooters too and force their politicians to finally rebuild their strength.
Without a doubt in next 5 years we will see the climate change hysteria being replaced with western powers focusing energy independence.
This will prepare NATO against China.
India will not be a Russian ally in 5 years.
Days of India-Russia partnership are over. Neither parties will admit it today but Modi’s recent speech about defense self reliance is indicative of that. He has realized that Putin is a senile old man who can not be trusted anymore to make rational decisions.
India must carve its path alone. Hopefully Europe and USA will convince India to make right kind reforms to achieve that.
A note about Trump.
My central argument is that things aren’t always as they appear from outside. Same applies to Trump and his nonsense as well. He is the kind of person who aligns with public perceptions and pretends to be the guy who invented it. He took credit for rising stock market. He ended up getting blamed for its crash later. Now he called Putin smart and brilliant and Biden weak. If Putin’s regime falls in next 2 years, Biden will be the next Ronald Reagan and Trump will end up holding his own spit in his hand. The man lacks decorum and anyone who marches behind him is a moron.