Unfortunately, Putin Is Right

Vladimir Putin has effectively claimed that Ukraine poses an existential threat to Russia, and that claim has been widely disputed and ignored. But Putin is correct. Merely by existing, Ukraine in its present mode of government, with all its flaws, poses an inexorable threat to everything that Putin believes and holds dear.

Ukraine has discovered the appeal and the effectiveness of greater personal and economic freedom, and the current level of success in resisting Russian efforts to conquer Ukraine flows from that greater level of economic and personal freedom.

Just before the Russian Revolution, Russia had the fifth largest economy in the world. Today, it’s not even in the top ten. Except for military technology, Russia relies heavily on western technology all across its economy. Most of its best petroleum equipment comes from the west, and Russia cannot build enough commercial aircraft to supply its own airlines, which may be another reason why Putin just confiscated all foreign-owned commercial aircraft in Russia. He’ll worry about the spare parts he can’t get later, or cannibalize some of those aircraft for the parts.

In addition, much of the Russian economy rests not on technology, but the export of natural resources and agricultural crops.

If Ukraine had been able to continue on its current economic and political path, within a generation, if not sooner, more and more Russians would have been moving south for economic opportunity and greater freedom.

Putin may talk military terms, but those are only a cover for the fact that Russia, as it is now ruled and structured, cannot continue to exist without leeching off its “vassal” states, and Putin cannot help but know that, at least subconsciously. By crushing as much of Ukraine as possible, even if he cannot obtain an absolute victory, he can at the least postpone the comparative decline of Russia, although, obviously, he is hoping that by destroying Ukraine, he can totally halt that trend.

For him, it is, in fact, a fight for survival of all he holds dear, and the United States and Europe need to understand that.

9 thoughts on “Unfortunately, Putin Is Right”

  1. Tom says:

    Yes Putin is right but this is compounded by Ukraine (if not Zeleinski) being wrong.

    In 1994, Ukraine agreed to destroy the weapons, and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Ukraine had already agreed to join Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Ukraine apparently did this in order to retain the allegiance of the persistently Russian speaking minority of its population (caused by the Russification of all the Eastern European vassal states by Stalin’s Soviet Union).

    The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) entered into force on August 1, 2017, eliminating tariffs on most bilateral merchandise trade. Ukraine may have done this because of the annexation of Crimea thinking of the pre-WW I alliances situation which was a significant factor leading to that world war.

    Putin was right in recognizing that NATO is a defense alliance and comes together to protect a member which is attacked. Russia also recognized that the insistence of the “free” world upon Law and Order meant that one could not use other, non-defense, agreements and alliances to provide warfare assistance to a member state which is attacked by a non-member state (but material assistance would be legal). So the likelihood of boots on the ground assistance to Ukraine was virtually impossible unlike what happened with Serbia more than a century ago.

    But Putin is wrong as well! There is no question that communism makes for poor economics but the US should still prepare for a real Chinese version of Communism (or “Democracy”). China has a greater population than Russia, EU, or the US alone and consequentially the potential of a larger economy. So Putin’s pursuit of Stalinism 102, instead of working for a west of Urals Eurasian economy, shoots Russia in the foot once again.

    1. Censored Far Too Often says:

      Russia is the successor state to the Soviet Union. The nukes were its to take back, as was the debt of the USSR which it paid off in full. Ukraine paid nothing.

      If Wyoming seceded, it would not get to hold onto the Federal nukes in its prairie either.

      1. Tom says:

        Not quite.

        https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/nuclear-weapons-war-russia-ukraine-putin-nonproliferation-treaty-npt/ – is a useful reference regarding this matter.

        “Prior to 1991, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and had Soviet nuclear weapons in its territory. … At the meetings in Brest, Belarus on December 8, and in Alma Ata on December 21, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held about one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world at the time, as well as significant means of its design and production. … Formally, these weapons were controlled by the Commonwealth of Independent States. In 1994, Ukraine agreed to destroy the weapons, and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).” From Wikipedia, which agrees with the history that (a) Ukraine destroyed these weapons and (b) the political reasoning that apparently went on in Ukraine with regard to security from Russia and loyalty from the Russians on its territory.

        I would say that possession is similar to ownership (at least by authoritarian standards) and it is also why nuclear weapons owned by the US are under its physical control where ever they are on earth. My point had to do with the naivety of Ukraine in seeking a guaranty from people who do not know what the means (like making a deal with DJ Trump 46th President of the USA).

  2. Censored Far Too Often says:

    From your article:

    “Ukraine was unable to use most of its nuclear weapons at the time, as the command centers were still in Moscow”

    Control is ownership.

    The article states the Ukrainian’s claim of ownership is true because they claim to have had physical control of these nukes in that they think they could have carted them off if they wanted to.

    The Russians claim ownership because they could launch them.

    So both sides can claim ownership.

    However, I find it unlikely that Ukraine could just tamper with these nukes without consequences such as detonation. Why? Because the USSR was what Westerners might consider paranoid. From their viewpoint, it wasn’t, because historically their countries have been invaded so many times. For instance, the USSR had a deadman’s switch on their nukes “Perimeter”. Knock out the Kremlin, and the world would suffer nuclear annihilation.

    Most people probably don’t realize that the Perimeter system is not only still working but has been upgraded.


    1. Censored Far Too Often says:

      (sorry this was for Tom above).

      1. Tom says:

        No argument from me except for:

        ” From their viewpoint, it wasn’t, because historically their countries have been invaded so many times.”

        While it is true that, as with all European countries, invasions of Russia by other nations have happened but Russia is the nation which is persisting in this activity. Despite the 1905 Revolution which persuaded the Tsar to get rid of serfdom Stalin brought it back with the Kulak label of landownership and eventually replaced them with collective type of serfdom. All attempts to push invasions of Russian back has simply kept Russia in its historic bailiwick – similar to the European colorizations. I have no tears for Russians.

        1. Censored Far Too Often says:

          If one wants to predict someone’s behavior, knowing what they think and feel helps. For that reason it makes sense to learn how the Russians think and feel about the world and their history.

          As to your and my emotions about this, I fail to see their relevance.

          1. Tom says:


  3. Tim says:

    To Lee’s main message, this assessment goes a long way to explaining the apparently ill-judged invasion which the UK media have not picked up on.

    One thing for certain is that the analysis will be done for some time to come in the military academies, just like after the Falklands War.

    The head of the Royal Marines posted yesterday that the Ukrainian defence success reinforces recent changes in the UK armed forces which focus more on small groups operating independently with less (targetable) armour support.

    I would imagine the Defence industry is very happy with all the investment they will shortly have in hand-held armaments.

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