I have no use for Russia. From the Czars to the communists to whatever they call themselves today, they have been poison for my people — Jews — as well as for democracy. Freedom doesn’t seem to be in their DNA.
But do they have a point in wanting to keep Ukraine out of NATO?
Brief background: No Allied nation suffered the losses of Russia during World War II after Nazi Germany invaded (breaking the nonaggression pact Stalin had signed with Hitler to protect his red ass.) More than 20 million Russians — civilian and military — died. Germany lost 8.8 million, Great Britiain 424,000, the U.S. 291,000, France 217,000.
I have to believe those staggering losses are as much a part of the Russian psyche as the Holocaust is for Jews.
Even for someone as heartless and ruthless as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He says NATO is an existential threat to his nation, and his nation is being surrounded by forces of the West.
Imagine if an unfriendly nation had taken over Canada. How would we feel?
We don’t have to imagine. It has happened — when Fidel Castro took over Cuba and gave the green light for Russia to send missiles to the island.
The U.S. response was immediate, along the lines of, “Oh, no, you don’t.”
The U.S. Navy blockaded the island and stopped ships on the high seas to prevent missiles from being installed,
We nearly came to war with the Russians, who blinked, and removed the missiles.
Now, we are eyeball to eyeball with them again, threatening massive economic retaliation if they move into Ukraine.
Which is us locking the door after one of the horses has been stolen.
I mean the Ukrainian province of Crimea, which was occupied in 2014 by the Russians under the pretext of it having once been part of the USSR. The West did nothing except growl and roll out a few meaningless sanctions. I say meaningless, because they did not work.
Now, Russia is supporting so-called separatists in eastern Ukraine, and has massed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.
Nothing to worry about, say the Russians, who claim they are just having a winter picnic, nothing to worry about.
Russia says nyet to Ukraine joining NATO, and helping to encircle Russia.
That’s a semi-legitimate concern except for one thing — Putin knows NATO will never strike first. In fact, it rarely strikes second — take a look at the ethnic cleansing that happened in the ‘90s after Yugoslavia broke into pieces and sectarian war broke out in Europe’s backyard.
In his black heart, Putin knows NATO will not attack him, but he is using that argument to demand that Ukraine never join NATO and that the West pull back in other ways — in troop and missile placement.
He wants breathing room, or lebensraum, living space — which is precisely the argument made by Hitler in the runup to WWII.
The West appeased and Hitler, who sensed weakness, and wanted more.
It is right there in the history books, in black and white.
The Rusians say they will not invade Ukraine, and they won’t. They will find another word for it, as they did with Crimea.
The dilemma for the U.S. is this: We can’t allow Putin to dictate membership in NATO. If we compromise with his soldiers on the border, will he not try to use blackmail again?
I believe yes.
One compromise might be for the U.S. to insist that Ukraine join NATO if it wishes, but with the proviso that no offensive missiles will be placed there. We have plenty elsewhere.
Without a compromise, will Russia invade Ukraine?
If it does, will the West stop him, when it hasn’t yet clawed him out of Crimea?
I don’t think military force should be used.
The West needs to turn its economic might against Russia, isolating it from the family of nations.
The U.S. outspending the USSR help collapse it.
We can do the same with Russia.
Beat Russia with bucks, not bombs.