As Finland and Sweden move closer to formally applying for NATO membership, Helsinki recognizes the seriousness of the transition period leading up to membership approval. Given that this move adds to NATO’s expansion, which will make it much closer to Russia’s doorstep, President Putin will not be silent. It might prompt him to respond in some way, writes UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate Salem AlKetbi (pictured).
No one can guess what “military and technical actions” the Kremlin has threatened as a possible response to two European countries joining the alliance. The danger lies not only in the possibility of escalation and confrontation against the background of NATO enlargement. A complex ideological conflict is taking shape on the horizon.
The West speaks of shared values that unite its countries in the face of authoritarian regimes. Many Western politicians and elites promote the idea that Russia’s rejection of democratic regimes is the cause of what happened in Ukraine. On both sides, Russian and Western, there is a recharacterization of what is happening in Ukraine being peddled.
The Kremlin now views the military operation as a response to an existential threat to Russia, or as one Russian official said, “We are not just fighting the Nazis in Ukraine. We are liberating Ukraine from NATO occupation and expelling the worst enemy from our western borders.” On the other hand, the West talks about the threat of authoritarian regimes to Western democracies.
One French newspaper even put the question under the headline “Does Russia pose a direct threat to the world order?” It mentions sensitive political concepts in this crisis, such as branding the Russian regime a “kleptocracy,” as opposed to autocratic rule, a traditional notion that is often used in normal circumstances.
In fact, massive US aid to Ukraine, estimated at $40 billion in addition to humanitarian and other strategic aid, is aimed, according to most observers, at weakening Russia and discouraging any desire to get involved in new military conflicts. This connotes a US attempt to neutralize Russia in any possible international conflict with China.
The motives for this aid are now directed mainly in the direction of China. In other words, the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine ultimately leads, according to US perceptions, to isolating Chinese power and depriving it of possible Russian support.
The danger of such schemes is that President Biden himself has admitted that he fears that President Putin has no more exits to save face after the crisis in Ukraine. Instead of offering him these exits or a lifeline, presumably diplomatically, to resolve the crisis, the West is going for maximum pressure on Moscow till it has no choice but to capitulate.
This is a completely unlikely scenario, given the performance of the Russian economy since the beginning of the crisis, President Putin’s mindset, and his political background. On top of that, there is his professional history, or preparation for a long war and a hardening of his political and military positions.
The haunting scenario now is that the Ukrainian crisis will continue and spread geographically and strategically to other countries and regions, disrupting many countries’ economies, causing serious food and economic crises that could cause parallel wars and other crises, as the world moves into unprecedented and uncontrollable chaos.
Here I am reminded of a remarkable statement published by the American magazine Newsweek, by Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, in which he said that his country could destroy NATO countries in just 30 minutes in a nuclear war.
Though he warned about the consequences of nuclear war for the whole world, the statement itself is formidable and means that the Russian leadership has considered such a scenario and the possibilities of resorting to it. The fear here is that the West would bank on the idea that Russian nuclear weapons are just a threat.
To drive Russia into a tight corner without a suitable exit on the horizon is not rational at all. Therefore, it cannot be viewed in terms of calculations of strategic benefits and costs or traditional rules of crisis management. The whole situation looks outside the context of traditional calculations that have defined previous world wars and international crises. In the search for realistic solutions to this crisis, everyone must think differently.