Putin is not foolish enough to invade Ukraine

Vladimir Putin is not afraid of Joe Biden, the newly-woke U.S. military, the Keystone Kops at the NSA, CIA or sundry other alphabet organizations right down to BIPOC and LGBTQ, or his speechwriter “doctor” Jill, or the yes-men (er, persons) in the White House. The Kamala Kackle gives him pause, but he has people to handle her.

No, Putin is not afraid of any of them. In fact, it’s that collection of nitwits that tempts him.

Here’s what he’s afraid of, for good reasons.

First, war is semi-obsolete in today’s global economy. Just as China doesn’t want war with the United States, which is its biggest manufactured goods customer, Russia doesn’t want war with western or even eastern Europe, which are its biggest oil and gas customers.

Say what you will about the perils of globalization, but it does discourage war. Bombing your customer or even your customer’s neighbor is bad for business.

Second, Ukraine is not defenseless even if it doesn’t get much help from NATO. Ukraine could field a couple hundred thousand soldiers. Even if they aren’t great soldiers, they aren’t bad, and soldiers fight notoriously well when defending their own land, cities and families.

Russia would still win their little war with Ukraine, but the Russian casualties would be non-trivial. Moreover, they would then have to defend the conquered Ukraine against urban terrorists for decades.

Putin is popular in Russia, at least compared to the laughingstock pariah we call Joe Biden in America, but Russians still remember the catastrophe of their last foreign adventure in Afghanistan. And since then, they’ve grown accustomed to a better standard of living and less authoritarianism. Ordinary Russians may be nostalgic for the glory days of the Soviet empire, but they have little stomach for the hardship of it.

Third, economic sanctions against Russia could really hurt them. Not just ordinary Russians but Putin’s oligarchy. That’s another aspect of that global trade system.

Finally, there’s not really much in Ukraine worth taking. Ukraine is not a treasure trove of oil and gas or high tech or rare earth metals. Putin would find better war booty a thousand miles south in the Middle East (though he has to be careful there – Israel is small but fierce).

Look at what the Soviets got out of their occupation of Eastern Europe. Nothing but headaches.

So, what is Putin doing with all this saber rattling? Two things. The first is that he just enjoys rattling his saber. This guy is a natural tyrant with a raging Napoleon complex. I’m sure he looks back at his KGB days as the best of his life. What other world leader poses for vanity shots shirtless on horseback? (I know that John Kerry and Barack Obama posed shirtless on sailboards, but surely you see the difference between riding a horse bare chested and tip-toeing on a sailboard in swim trunks.)

Like a boy with a BB gun, Putin is enjoying himself playing army. And unlike that boy with the BB gun, he’s also drawing the attention of the world. He was born a hundred years too late for a spectacle like marching on Paris, but right now he’s getting all the attention of such a march without any of the effort of actually marching.

Putin imagines himself an International Man of Mystery, sort of like Austin Powers but shorter.

The other thing is that Putin is profiting from all this. The prospect of war between Russia and allies of NATO threatens oil supplies. Most of Russia’s oil exports go to Europe but oil is of course a worldwide commodity and so shortages one place affect supply and prices everywhere.

The price of oil is at a multi-year high, and jumped another $3/barrel on Friday. Russia exports about 5 million barrels of oil a day. That $3/barrel jump in the price on Friday, alone, generates another $15 million/day for Putin’s oil buddies. Like OPEC, they remember well the depths of COVID when the price of oil actually went negative for a few days. They’re savoring today’s financial and emotional payback.

They’ll keep up this drama because there’s every reason to and no reason not to. But they won’t invade Ukraine. They’re not foolish.

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43 thoughts on “Putin is not foolish enough to invade Ukraine

  1. Glenn: I PRAY you are right! What you say makes total sense, BUT, I fear that IF Putin gets sanctioned for starting a small war, China will offset ANYTHING the rest of us can do to harm him economically! One way or another, we will find out soon!

    • As Mr. Beaton wrote, Russia has no reason the invade Ukraine; he already stole Crimea under the failed/nonexistent leadership of Obama. This has all the hallmarks of a sort of ‘reverse wag-the-dog’ operation where Below Average Joe beats the war drums (unnecessarily) with the assistance of an obsequious, calamity media while knowing fully well that there is little chance of Russia invading anybody (with an economy about the size of Ohio how could they?) Joe says some generally coherent ‘tough guy’ stuff (Corn Pop anyone?) and Putin doesn’t invade. Barking seal media proclaims Joe a ‘world saving, diplomatic genius who prevented WWIII; aren’t we blessed to have such a steady hand to protect us against evil Russia and Republicans…’

      Never considered a smart man, Below Average Joe was a corrupt, dishonest, incompetent moron in the 1970s who is today IN his 70s.

  2. That depends.

    And China meanwhile takes Taiwan,
    +1 on higher oil prices, and the Manly Shirtless selfies. Deflection for something else. Central Bank Digital Currency would be next or a digital Rubel instead of the petro dollar. He would be better off to take Kazakistan and it’s Tengez oil too. You nailed it. Nonrenewable energy is still king and will remain despite the Central Bank reset to own nothing and be happy. The big man is changing his depends.

  3. I tend to agree with you, BUT Biden desperately NEEDS a war. He (this includes his handlers, et.al.) needs a new crisis to lift his spirits and morale. His government is in trouble and everyone knows it. Another crisis to not let go to waste. Biden will try to provoke Putin into a strike.

    I’m a vet myself, but I would hope this time that the common grunt (you know, the ones that actually get things done) would just refuse to go.

  4. Don’t kid yourself. Embargo never hurt Castro personally and war over Ukraine wouldn’t hurt Putin or his buddies. In case of war, Europe has no alternative to Russia for petroleum. Putin is set for life in war or peace and he’s thinking he can fart in Brandon’s face with no serious repercussions.

    Putin would set off the notorious EMP above America and we’d be helpless, our civilization completely shut down. He knows this, as he knows Joe Biden’s a babbling fool who with Mark Milley’s help has eviscerated our armed forces – not to mention that the EMP would shut down our jets, tanks, personnel carriers and logistical trucks. We wouldn’t even be able to get over there to get at him.

    In short, Putin is largely invulnerable to the punishing effects of war. He doesn’t answer to his people. All that’s staying his hand right now is uncertainty about the Chinese and he’s working on them. We’re at a very dangerous point.

    • And for all that risk and effort, Putin gets … [drum roll] … a headache called Ukraine.

      Naw, he’s not going to invade. This isn’t our grandfathers’ world.

      BTW, Cuba and Castro survived for the sole reason that they were propped up by Russia. So who’s going to prop up Russia?

  5. I think you are probably right on this one. War is not good for business. I sure hope you are right. Small wars can get our of control. But whatever happened to that New Years resolution? Diaper changer? Unnecessary except for making fanboys chuckle and particularly cruel to the degree it might be accurate.

  6. Both Russia and China have recently committed to closer ties with one another.
    They wish to create a new world order with Russia influencing Europe, and. China the Pacific Rim.
    They smell blood in the water, the blood of a weakening West.
    They are in this for the long term gains.
    Threats upon Ukraine and Taiwan are but the baby steps in this game.
    They both will use these cards, and more as they carry out a long term strategic plan.
    The West always underestimates opponents,
    and looks short term.
    We can only hope that there are enough politicians , military leaders, covert operatives, and think tank influencers who are wise to them and are beind the scenes prepping enough for the eventualities.
    Our current administrations and many western leaders are feckless or stupid.

      • My only response to that comment is that you need to catch up on world poltical and economic factualities.

      • I’ll further add that China and Russia neednt resort to major war to gain political and economic dominance in thier respective spheres.
        China has already proved it adequately, and Russia ith its vast resources should never be underestimated as to where it may be a decade or more from now.

  7. Russia should be a US ally, along with India. CIA / D-R UniParty — warmongers — are keeping that from happening, along with obstructing a recrudescence of reason and common sense. Putin would be perfectly happy to do that, as would Modi. The whole world would cheer that development, well, the whole human world.

    Russia’s problem is her border, especially her western one. They put energy into Western Europe for income, yes, but more importantly, to discourage those countries from again marching east into Russia. Her western borders are an emotional matter for Russia, not economic in the first instance, although later so, but firstly and ultimately emotional. The memory is long of hyper-brutal invaders from the west, the same sort who live there seemingly forever avoiding extinction or refinement.

    This is firstly about geography and feelings, rather than economics and trade, although they are present, later. Intermarium, which includes Ukraine and the Three Seas Initiative countries, is Russia’s buffer against yet another invasion from the West German tribes, The Franks and their Germanic cousins, The Swedes.

    Two ways Intermarium countries can act as buffer to allay Russian fears. (1) Russia rules them, already tried, unhappy and unsuccessful. (2) Russia, USA, and India help them become prosperous, e.g., Poland, Romania, Slovenia, which is partially underway but would blossom quickly under joint Russian, US, and Indian blessing.

    Putin and Lavrov have as their cynosure Ivan, Peter, and Catherine, not Vladimir, Josip, and Leonid. For this important point I invite attention to our daughter’s SAMS thesis, published in 2019: https://www.amazon.com/Putins-Political-Philosophy-Implications-Military-ebook/dp/B07ZG3S83B/. Also, this plenary fundamental statement by Lavrov, dating from 2016: https://theological-geography.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Sergey-Lavrov-Foreign-Affairs.pdf

    US warmongers and worse — CIA / D-R UniParty — are holding human common sense and US strategic wisdom hostage to their venality. War talk and troop deployment is IO preparation for suspending indefinitely US elections and jumping the likes of Buttigieg over Harris and Pelosi into the Oval Office.

    At all costs, whatever Christians believe and Americans want must be tormented to death both here and abroad. They hate Putin because he is not an atheist and permits Christian efflorescence. They hate Americans because they cling to their properties and common sense.

    Putin and Russia are not the problem. CIA / D-R UniParty are the problem. US Armed Forces should do their job, their sworn job, and deploy against those rascals, to demolish their HQs and stand their personnel to trial for treason, treachery, and malicious activities.

  8. Heh … Vlad The Conquerer … Vlad The Great … or so it seems from the topless beefcake photo riding the horse.

    I had read in a few stories not so long ago that Russia has about the same GPD as the State of Texas. This is not a put down of Texas in any way as Russia has an estimated population of 142,320,790, while Texas has an estimated population of 29,200,000. Take the Russia estimate with a grain of salt as that figure come from the CIA, an alleged intelligence agency that seems to have a collective IQ somewhere in the low-to-mid double digits.

    See: https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/russia/#people-and-society

    If Vlad The Conquerer takes Ukraine he will loot it for what he can get, but he his wannabe Russian empire would become an international pariah … his GPD would go from what Texas has to what Puerto Rico has. (Sorry Puerto Rico … but you just have a really corrupt third world style government. No statehood for you.)

    Maybe Vlad will join up with the Mad Mullahs of Iran and the Covid ChiComs in a new form something like the Axis Powers or the Central Powers of WWI. These turned out to be disastrous for both in the end … only time will tell.

    But … it does seem unlikely that a country with the GPD of Texas could invade, conquer, hold and annex a neighboring country like Ukraine. Otherwise this would be a huge drain on the Russian GPD with Ukrainian insurgents sending lots of Russian boys back to Moscow in body bags with lots of world wide sanctions taking even more bites out of their economy.

    Be prepared for the worst … pray and hope for the best.

    • You know what people do with mad dogs, I am sure. On what authority do you issue this mandate: “Be prepared for the worst … pray and hope for the best.”?

      • Mandate?!? I’ve issued no mandate. I hold no rank of Admiralty, Governorship, Tsar or any other high title.

        This is just my fortune cookie-like message of hope that one should always be prepared for hard times, while praying that those hard times do not become reality.

        G’day, Sir.

  9. There is another way to look at this, remembering the strategic ambitions and moves of Ivan, Peter, and Catherine, the which were internally consistent over centuries. They moved stepwise towards Constantinople, and for religious, commercial, and self-defense purposes, aka the perpetual Russian border / communications problem.

    To Russians, Moscow is The Third Rome, Constantinople The Second Rome, and Italian Rome The First Rome. The word Tsar means Caesar, as everyone here must be aware. Russians remember Alexander Nevsky as of a glorious Caesar. This is emotional and thus supremely powerful. As is the feeling, so is the result.

    Note, Putin has not taken that name and shows no sign of taking it. But name or not, he has taken the mantle’s strategic objective of restoring The Second Rome to Christian honor and making of her a Russian asset, per ancient Russian passion, at least the western half of that city.

    Putin and Lavrov move to the same purpose and for the same reasons as Ivan, Peter, and Catherine. If they sortie into what is regarded as Eastern Ukraine, it will be because, as they say, rightly, the populations there are mostly ethnic Russian speaking Russian, so they are not invading Ukraine, they are restoring Russia. That is a non-trivial distinction in matters of statecraft, the which deal with emotions as much or more than with troop and materiel counts.

    Eastern Ukrainian Russia, in that feeling and thinking, is flank protection for the strategic move on Constantinople. A coup d’oeil of rivers and ports along the western littoral of the Black Sea makes the point. Constantinople is Russia’s strategic objective along that littoral. Thus moves made north of Constantinople will be made, wisely or not, in pursuance of that objective. Nor is speed a consideration for Russians, as one or two other commenters have mentioned. Russians are inured against impatience and embarrassment, both.

    Data point: US and Russian commanders have been cooperating quite nicely in Syria for several years now. Lots of connections have been made, some of the strong stuff of statecraft. Their generals in Syria and Moscow have shown themselves competent officers in the field and willing to work with American officers, quite confidently and efficiently in fact.

    Another data point: Russia’s best naval formations and newest equipment are in the Caspian Sea, not the Black Sea. However, those assets can move to the Black Sea via the Volga-Don Canal, an opportunity originally recognized by Peter and completed by The Soviets. Iran is more dangerous to Russia than Ukraine is, and they all know it. Again, the perpetual Russian border / communications problem.

    Finally, FYSA, coming likely is panic buying in USA for basic household items, in response to self-serving war drum IO out of CIA / D-R UniParty. A frightened people is easy to push around and especially easy to drive into morbidity. Recruitment and retention of mil personnel has collapsed, which is a plus for said IO operators. We’ll see who retains their faith in God.

    • Very interesting analysis and points. I agree. Furthermore it also behooves Putin to keep Washingtoon buzzing about war knowing as he does that it is all for Biden’s puppet masters’ efforts to distract Americans from the catastrophic econydamage the Demoncrats have unleashed on the country in the last year. The Dems are about to get their buttocks handed to them in November and they are terrified of what congressional investigations will reveal under a fed up Republican controlled Congress.

  10. I’m speaking emotionally here in saying that I fear Russia less than our principal Western allies, who are moving herd like in lockstep toward this Great Reset, New World Order, Agenda 2030, Build Back Better, Globo-Homo utopia. Put another way, I’d rather live in a world run by Putin than in one run by, say, Justin Trudeau. As David said, for several reasons Russia ought to be an ally of ours, along with India. It certainly can’t be any more tyrannical than our society is becoming.

    Consequently, the only “war” that interests me at the moment, is the one going on in Ottawa, thanks to The Freedom Convoy.

  11. …Ordinary Russians may be nostalgic for the glory days of the Soviet empire, but they have little stomach for the hardship of it….
    bald and bankrupt (youtube) goes around ex-soviet countries asking people if things are better now than Soviet times and everyone says the Soviet times were good

  12. There will be no Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is not necessary for Russian hegemony to expand, if that is one of Putin’s goals. However, I doubt that Putin wishes to expand Russia’s physical borders; what he wants is a neutral “near abroad” to act as a buffer against what he rightfully sees as Western territorial aggression. NATO is no longer the cold war alliance it once was, and Trump was correct in his analysis; it has become just another way for domestic war industries to prosper and European nations to take their cut of the American economy. Europe has not needed NATO to defend against Russian aggression since the Soviet Union disbanded. (Not that any European country actually had or has an adequate military defense; just that Russia neither was nor is likely to roll tanks through the Fulda Gap. And now that Russia controls much of Europe’s energy supply–thanks to feckless Joe Biden’s strangulation of American energy production and Merkel’s willing capitulation regarding Nordstream II–Putin has the leverage he needs to keep European powers at bay without military intervention.) Putin is much more concerned about his southern and eastern borders. Don’t believe any of the current about blather about supposed “alliances” with Iran or China, both of which are traditionally enemies of Russia. Putin knows to keep his enemies close, notwithstanding, and as long as it suits his purposes to put up a pretense of friendliness with Russia’s traditional enemies, as it does by keeping America’s current political upper class stirred up and restless, the “alliances” will continue to be publicly fostered, but behind the scenes, Putin remains wary of such entanglements. Recall the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty? Stalin and Hitler put up a chummy front, all the while Stalin was massing troops and tanks on his western frontier. Hitler simply beat Stalin to the punch by launching Fall Blau. Nonetheless, Putin knows that in modern times, Russia has always been invaded from the west, and his primary area of concern remains in that direction. That is why he wants Ukraine and the Baltics to remain out of NATO and continue to act as his buffer against the hegemonic aspirants in the West.

  13. Well…you say, Putin is not foolish enough to invade Ukraine?
    No, not without disabling any superpower opposing Him…that’s us the USA.
    Without the USA military, without the USA operating normally in the private sector and the economy continuing on a day to day, then He knows He can invade any country.
    Putin is ready and capable of EMP The United States of America, consequently and totally destroying all our communications, food supplies, electric grids throughout the US, disrupting 300 million American lives and destroying all medical supplies and Hospitals.
    Putin knows that He [can] invade the Ukraine and Europe, and subdue China and all Muslim countries.
    So… please rewrite your Commentary because I just gave you Intel that all military is aware of, but thanks to the Biden administration, the American people are clueless at this imminent threat.
    Thank you Glenn, as always, it is a pleasure to know you.
    Steve Aspen

  14. Great discussion, guys.

    I come back to this. What’s Putin get by taking over Ukraine? Sure, he can pull a Kublai Kahn, a Napoleon, a Hitler etc, and have a lot of fun doing it, but in the end it’s not worth the risk, cost, headaches and sanctions.

    Is anyone sitting around the Kremlin thinking, “Gee wouldn’t it be great to own Poland again?” I don’t think so. Putin will continue to rattle his little sword, maybe even for years, because he enjoys it, but he won’t invade eastern Europe. He’s not a fool.

  15. I agree that Putin should not be stupid enough to invade Ukraine. But how about getting a little piece? Biden said he could do it no problem, so why not? I was looking at the map. ther is a little piece of land south of Moldava that could give them access to the Black sea. So why not get that? I do not think anybody would go to war for that, and it would be a very easy take over.

  16. The article mentions the unsuccessful Russian entanglement in Afghanistan.
    But don’t forget about the successful Russian invasion and takeover of the Crimea (Russia wanted their naval base at Sevastopol back), and also the invasion and takeover of part of Georgia – I seem to recall this had to do with petroleum pipelines to Europe.
    Russia invaded, the Western diplomats fussed, and that was it.
    I would not be surprised to wake up one day soon and Russia has taken over the Russian-speaking eastern parts of Ukraine (I understand this is where most of Ukraine’s industry is located) and Russia then saying to Europe and Biden’s handlers “Yeah, what are ya gonna DO about it?”
    And the answer will be…Fussing, and ‘Strongly Worded Letters’, but other than that…..NOTHING.

  17. This “woke” (a compliment thanks) blogger notes you are wrong on all accounts. The only question is if the Ukrainian leadership shared your misjudgment of Putin’s intentions and never adequately prepared the military and the population to at least attempt to repel an invasion. It is amazing how people fail to see the real evil in front of their faces. That goes for the U.S. as well. When Ukraine folds, as it appears it will, it is a good thing the U.S. didn’t supply it with the best U.S. military equipment because that equipment would all wind up in Putin’s hands.

    • I feel very sorry for the people of Ukraine.

      I gather you’re feeling some satisfaction that my prediction was wrong (at least mostly). I’ll admit that. My analysis was sound, but my input data was not. It turns out that Putin is more foolish than I thought. I think he’ll come to regret his decision, but in the meantime there will be a lot of suffering, pain and death.

      • I agree with your sentiment Glenn … and this should not be a snide tit-for-tat matter.

        I interpreted your column as more hopeful that Putin would not invade Ukraine, but there shouldn’t be any kind of smug glee by anyone that your column downplayed an imminent invasion.

        We could and should all be forgiven for taking anything that our American intelligence community had been predicting. Our IC has been so wrong on so many matters, up to and including the implosion and demise of the Soviet Union some thirty years ago, the countries India and Pakistan going nuclear in the 1990s, the September 11 attacks in 2001, WMD in Iraq, the fall into anarchy of Libya and the 9/11 Benghazi attacks, the fake Russia-Russia-Russia slander against former President Trump, the quick fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021, and probably lots more too.

        I expect Ukraine to likely fall within days, if not a few weeks. But then the real slog for Russia will probably begin. Ukrainian insurgencies will pick off, harass and torment Russian occupiers. Dead Russian soldiers will be sent back to Moscow in body bags while other Russians will be maimed, injured and disfigured. ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have really advanced the tactics of insurgencies and sabotage. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ukrainian resistors adopt similar tactics.

        Russia could be occupying Ukraine for years or more. But they too in the late 80s eventually had to cut and run in Afghanistan when the then Mujahadeen drained the Soviet treasury and sent more and more dead Russians home to the USSR.

        I feel sorry for the Ukrainian people. I also feel somewhat sorry for the average Russian troops who are going to bear the brunt of Putin’s decision to invade and occupy.

        Clearly … something went wrong in our strategic diplomatic relations with Russia after the USSR imploded. Instead of being treated like a red-headed step-child, Russia and the Russian people should have better been brought in to re-join us as a vital part Western Civilization. The history and culture of Russia is deeply tied to the liberal (classic) West through literature, poetry, ballet/dance/, classical music, etc. They should have been better welcomed into the West as a matter of international policy and diplomacy. Instead, they were made to feel lost and subjugated and even a bit paranoid by being excluded by the West.

        This doesn’t give Putin an excuse for what he has done. But if the Russians were made to feel much more welcome into the Free Democratic World then perhaps the Russian people never would have put Putin into power some 22 years ago.

        I suppose this sounds like some extreme Monday morning quarterbacking and hindsight is 20/20 as the cliche goes. But we took the hard lessons of WWI and the punishing Treaty of Versailles into post WWII by being magnanimous and charitable to those we have defeated in war. While America and the West won the Cold War, we could of and should of been more charitable and open to Russia and the Russian people after the Cold War ended.

        Now it seems like we have lost the Peace that was supposed to come out after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War … and what’s even worse is that we now have a craven mental cripple occupying the White House.

  18. Pingback: Vlad the Mad is playing Russian Roulette with six chambers loaded | the Aspen beat

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