It shouldn’t be any more necessary to remind sentient adults not to poke a bear—particularly a Russian bear—than it would be to remind them not to put their hand on a hot stove. From Mike Whitney and Israel Shamir at unz.com:
Question 1— For the last 4 years, Democrat leaders have blamed Russia for allegedly meddling in the 2016 elections. Now the Democrats– who control all three branches of government — have the power to reset US foreign policy and take a more hostile approach to Moscow. But will they?
At present, there are roughly 40,000 US-NATO troops massed along the Russian border conducting military exercises while scores of Russian tanks, artillery and an estimated 85,000 Russian troops are now located about 25 miles from Ukraine’s eastern border. Both armies are on hair-trigger alert and prepared for any sudden provocation. If the Ukrainian Army invades the Russian-speaking region of Ukraine (Donbas), Moscow will likely respond.
So, will there be a conflagration in the Ukraine this spring and, if so, how will Putin respond? Will he limit the scope of his campaign to the Donbas or push onward to Kiev?
Israel Shamir– If the Russian army crosses the Ukrainian border, it won’t stop in the Donbas. The war will be brief and the Ukraine will be split into pieces. But will it happen?
Russia’s totem animal, the Bear, is a strong and peaceful animal that is not easily aroused, but once provoked, it is unstoppable. Russian rulers have typically fit this image. They weren’t adventurous, but level-headed and prudent. Putin, who is the quintessential Russian ruler, is risk-averse. He won’t start a war he never wanted to begin with, but he will act decisively if he needs to do so. Consider 2014, after the Ukrainian coup: the lawful Ukrainian president Mr Yanukovich ran to Russia and asked Putin to help him regain power. At that time, the Ukrainian army was weak and Russia could have easily retaken the country without facing any significant resistance. But, surprisingly, Putin did not give the order to take Kiev.
Putin is unpredictable. He ordered the seizure of Crimea despite the counsel of his advisors. It was an unexpected move, and it worked like a charm. He also pummeled Georgia in 2008 after Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia. This was another surprise move that succeeded better than anyone could have imagined. If the Ukrainians try to retake Donbas, the Russian army will beat them badly and continue on to Kiev. The presence of NATO’s troops will not deter Putin.