Saturday, June 18, 2022
That's where we are now, then you have the broader question of what that means going forward. Can we just declare a frozen conflict and go home? And here I am both much more uncertain, and also much more skeptical. I’m more uncertain because the Russians are on the backfoot economically, politically, and geostrategically. Finland and Sweden are joining NATO (the Turkish opposition notwithstanding; I think we get through that) and I think that they join forward deployments of all these NATO troops right along the Russian border across Eastern Europe. Also there is a massive expansion in German defense spending. The enormous level of military support and training and intelligence that the West—that the US—is providing for the Ukrainian government, was the big red line for Putin in the invasion to begin with: “You're not going to be a threshold state for NATO.” Well, they’re a lot closer to NATO now than they were before the invasion. Zelensky is this war hero who is roundly celebrated and visited by all of these leaders across the EU and North America. How is Putin going to be willing to tolerate that one, two, three years down the road? As they rebuild, are they going to take another bite of the apple, like they did in Chechnya? And then what about Russia versus NATO? Are we going to see a reemergence of cyber attacks, espionage, disinformation attacks against NATO countries by the Russians, especially when the Americans have about as many sanctions on Russia as one could put on Russia? Russia is today the most heavily sanctioned country in the world. The Europeans finally got to the sixth round of sanctions with an oil boycott that, by the end of 2022, will amount to 90% of all oil from Russia to the EU being cut off. What's stopping the Russians from now taking the fight more directly—certainly in asymmetric form—to NATO? I think they will.