Russia, the country most likely to use the Troll Face as it’s avi, appears poised to invade Ukraine. With 100,000 soldiers on the ground spread across Belarus, Crimea, and its’ own border with Ukraine, Russia has the country effectively surrounded. And while Ukraine has been quick to caution that invasion is not imminent, it certainly seems unlikely this is mere saber-rattling. The face lost turning back now for Putin is too high, the mobilization is too great and too public.
Recall Russia’s invasions of Chechnya, Georgia, and South Ossetia, the annexation of Crimea, returning neighboring countries to their sphere of influence is perennially in Russia’s interest. This is to say nothing of the deliberate tactics of sowing dissent and fomenting of secessionist movements within Ukraine itself, or installing puppets like Viktor Yanukovych. Importantly, Crimea needs access to fresh water. Ukraine dammed the North Crimean Canal in 2014 in response to Crimea’s annexation. Nearly 90% of their freshwater has been shunted off and its costing Russia billions of rubles every year. It feels like this is something that has long been coming.
How does this all shake out? Tough to say. The US has close to 9,000 soldiers on high alert, ready to respond, with other NATO forces on standby. The US has flatly rejected Russia’s demand that Ukraine be barred from joining NATO and is threatening heavy sanctions in general, and personal sanctions on Putin himself.
There’s just a lot of factors at play here though where I think Russia will probably invade. The annexation of Crimea is a huge factor in this. It was a popular move in Russia at the time but it’s become something of a bugbear since then, so I think there’s political pressure to do something about it. I think Putin believes he can get away with it, and if he can, it’s a thumb in the eye to the west and a black eye for Ukraine. It would also seriously discredit NATO in the eyes of former Eastern Bloc countries. It would alleviate the Crimean water issue by gaining some control of that part of Dnieper river or at the very least re-opening the North Crimean Canal. This is just me spitballing, but potentially, they could absorb the eastern half of Ukraine. It’s already majority Russian-speaking, secessionist movements are already propped up there, it’s not quite as mountainous as the western half. Scary times.
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