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WESTERN REACTION

Here is where the chess game gets interesting.

  • Putin has the EU by the energy testicles with Russian exports of oil but particularly natural gas.
  • None of the moves that Putin is planning will be violent enough to merit NATO's military action.
  • None of the economic sanctions against Russia are workable because most of the sanctioning countries depend on Russian raw materials.
  • Russian economy does not need to be exceedingly strong, just strong enough to support a relatively large military force – this has been achieved today, so there is no need to further improvement.
  • None of the political unrest and instigation will create such a mess (e.g. a widespread and massive civil war) that will force the involvement of UN or NATO troops.

So, in all probability, what can the West do? Not much.

  • The west has never been good at fostering revolutions, communists were much better at this.
  • The west has never been too successful in propping–up decaying governments but when it has done so, it did it with mountains of money… which now lacks due to its permanent economic crisis.
  • They can't support a pro–West government with NATO troops on the streets but Russia can support a pro–Russian government with Russian troops on the street.
  • They can't attack Russia
  • They can't nuke Russia

Then, there is the geographical advantage. All these countries are either neighboring Russia or far away and disconnected from the West. All Russian military needs to do is to walk over the border. Westerners, on the other hand, need to go through other countries or worse, through the ocean. Furthermore, there is a degree of sympathy for Russia in those countries. And so, the geography and a large psychological advantage in in Russia's favor.

In summary, the West will do nothing of substance.

MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

So, what is likely to happen?

Lots and lots of verbal diatribe, threats, sabre rattling, token economic sanctions, propaganda wars, new treaties and old broken treaties, the revival of the cold war, short government revolutions (mostly non–violent) and a few military skirmishes. Putin will play very strongly the "ethnic" card by "supporting" Russians wherever they may reside; the perfect excuse. What is the West going to do? Claim that Russia has no right to defend Russians? No politician would be so stupid as to use such an argument. Most people would see through it instantaneously and laugh.

In summary, not much; although it will be entertaining to read it in the newspapers as they blow everything out of proportion.

RESULT

The final result is that Putin will have his empire. There will be a new Eurasian politico-economic block governed with an iron fist from mother Russia. There is absolutely nothing that the West can do without either shoot itself in the foot (economically speaking) or launch a military action that will invariable end up in a massive West-Russian conflict, possibly involving nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Politicians are not that stupid. They understand that in either case they will be out of a job or dead.

NATO will now face an enlarged CSTO. There will be yet another conventional arms race, but not a wasteful as the nuclear one.

People in the new block will continue to be oppressed but far less than in the USSR and life will go on.

WHAT PUTIN DOES NOT KNOW

Strangely enough and in a weird way, by executing his master plan Putin is actually accelerating the evolution of political systems in the Eurasian area. This is so because most countries in that geographic area are not ready for a standard democracy. They have not yet outgrown the political need for nationalism, a "strong" leader (i.e. dictatorship) and also yes, communism. Of course these countries have come a very long way from where they started, but they are not ready to be individual countries, their citizens are not ready. Putin is actually doing them a favor. By being re–annexed they will experience the submission to a political power earlier and more brutally than in a democracy. This will speed–up their political lifecycle and as a result they will come out on the other side much sooner.

HOW STRONG IS PUTIN'S HAND?
Again, strangely enough what makes it stronger is the weaknesses of his opponents in the West. By choosing a relatively low–key, underground plan, Putin almost guaranteed that there will be no Western intervention because people won't demand it. People are moved by dead bodies and horror stories, not by geopolitical realities and strategic movements. Putin won't give any excuses to the West to intervene. Besides, Putin is well aware that the economy is in the minds of most Westerners. Now is the perfect opportunity to strike.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Putin's empire will eventually collapse. This is so because all the countries that will be re–annexed will be done by a degree of force and they will be retained by yet another degree of force. This is the KGB way and it worked for 80+ years. Remember? Tried–and–true. Eventually, people will rebel. Chances are excellent that this will happen only after Putin's death, at which time we will have a more–or–less peaceful break–out.

Meanwhile, should we be afraid of Russian "expansionism"? Only if you live in former USSR republics. For the rest of the countries it will be business as usual… until the great Chinese empire begins to extend its influence over the world… but this is an entirely different topic which we already covered in The Great Chinese Threat.

CONCLUSION

Putin's plan is a good one although standard. His chances of success are excellent. If you live in former USSR republics, get out now, prepare to live under a dictatorship or switch sides. Doing nothing is not an option. Unless you wish to do so and become a victim. Your choice.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

 

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