01 April, 2014
Russia, Ukraine, and NATO: The alarmist claims that the Western alliance can’t defend Europe from Russia are preposterous.
Russia, Ukraine, and NATO: The alarmist claims that the Western alliance can’t defend Europe from Russia are preposterous.: Still, a Russian invasion of Ukraine—or an incursion into the southern and eastern parts of the country, where pro-Russia sentiment can easily be mustered—would rouse enormous fear and tension across Europe—not just for the fate of Ukraine, but for what Putin might do next. This is the real reason for the West’s countermoves (the sanctions, the deployments, the speeches, the meetings): not to regain Crimea (it’s gone, and everyone knows it), but to deter Putin from going further. Putin has dreams of restoring Great Russia (he once, famously, lamented the Soviet Union’s breakup as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”), but his actions are those of an opportunistic tactician. He will go as far as he can, but—so far—no farther. Crimea was easy: He already had troops there, as well as the headquarters for a large naval fleet. Most Russians regarded the peninsula as theirs already. He exploited the turmoil in Kiev to grab it for good. The task now, as Obama and other Western leaders see it, is to convince Putin that grabbing more land will mean real trouble.