Vladimir Putin is unafraid. He has no reason to be. He knows based on the history of the past five years and the stumbling and bumbling of recent days that the U.S., the U.N. and the E.U. will do nothing beyond meaningless rhetoric as he moves to bring the Ukraine under control. U.N. resolutions are only meaningful or valid to Vlad when they hamstring the West.
He knows that the U.S. by way of, God help us, Mr. Kerry offered assistance but as is Mr. Kerry’s and this administration’s history, there were strings attached. The strings, in any immediate sense, are totally impossible for Ukraine to execute as their treasury is empty and the full scope of the corruption is just beginning to become apparent.
Vlad knows that the U.S. could have pumped aid into the Ukraine absent conditions as a push back against Russia and a reward to Ukraine for spending their blood to resist Russian hegemony; we did not. Vlad knows that we have not, over the past five years, confronted him with anything stronger than press releases and high minded statements, he knows we will not do so now.
Vlad knows that there has been no price to pay for his years of intransigence at the U.N. related to Iran and North Korea. Vlad knows that his arms sales in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela specifically, have resulted in no penalty. Vlad knows that he controls significant portions of critical energy supplies to Western Europe, Germany being a key to that equation and having already felt the lash of Russian displeasure. Vlad knows that his announcement that he will build navel bases in Latin America have elicited no public response from the U.S.
Vlad knows that an incursion into Crimea is easily defended, two land routes; one from Ukraine one from over the border in Russia. Sevastopol is a critical port on the Black Sea from which a wide variety of strategic control points present themselves. Vlad knows that Russians have been present in Sevastopol since the 1780’s. Vlad knows that he can choke Ukraine by controlling the Crimean peninsula.
Vlad knows that should Ukraine attempt to move against the many Russian pipelines that transit Ukraine he will have his justification for action against Ukraine proper.
But most importantly; Vlad knows no one is going to do anything to confront him in any real sense so long as he stays in his region or ‘plays’ with the West. He has certainly tried to elicit a response, to determine where the line is but so far there appears to be no line. No line; no limitations. No limitations; no reluctance.
The old Eastern Block is being reconstructed by Vlad, so far the smart money is on him being able to do so. It won’t be pretty, it won’t be smooth but there is no a single indication that anyone will push back. Welcome to the Cold War V.2. Oh, and by the way, whether or not Mr. Obama thinks it’s a zero sum game or not has no impact on Vlad who thinks it is.