I almost feel sorry for Putin. As talks over Ukraine fall flat, Putin is picking a fight he can’t win. When Biden gave up Afghanistan, Putin saw a golden opportunity to play hardball with NATO over Ukraine. But NATO isn’t giving in to Putin’s outrageous demands for the alliance to kick out members like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and others who joined after 1997. The Jan. 14 cyber attack on Ukraine was Russia's handiwork. In theory, that leaves Putin one more move: war. But here are four reasons why the military balance doesn’t look good for a Russian move on Ukraine.
Taking Crimea in 2014 and starting a war in the Donbass didn’t work. If Putin’s plan was to draw Ukraine back toward Russia, he failed. Ukraine is looking westward more than ever. The fighting in the separatist eastern sector of Ukraine has claimed nearly 14,000 lives. Ukraine under President Zelensky is determined to preserve its 30 years of independence.
Russia does not have control of the airspace over Ukraine and the Black Sea. If you’re planning a ground invasion, that’s a big deal. Russia’s 100,000 forces are spread around Ukraine on 3 sides and under watch by NATO planes like amoebas in a petri dish. No doubt Putin would like to start with a massive cyberattack on Ukraine as he did to Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008. Times have changed. NATO will see it coming.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, has said that Ukraine could kick out Russian forces. NATO military strategy since 2019 has beefed up forces in the Baltics and the Black Sea so that NATO is “very, very vigilant” with a multinational command structure and assistance teams ready to rotate into Ukraine, Wolters told the Senate last year. Wolters said Ukraine’s military could repel the Russians “over time.’’ It wouldn’t be easy, but Putin does not hold the winning hand.
Putin could end up making NATO bigger and stronger. One move on Ukraine, and Sweden and Finland (which shares an 800-mile border with Russia) will join NATO overnight. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he’s ready to welcome the Nordic military powerhouses. Putin will be staring at a bristling NATO from the Black Sea to the Arctic Circle.
Don't forget the sanctions. Europe is Russia's biggest trading partner. Putin may end up making Russia a vassal state of China.
Read more of the full piece at Fox News originally published Jan. 13, 2022.