Earlier last month, Russia stationed 100,000 troops by the Ukrainian border. This follows Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and years of NATO support for Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is not planning to attack, but the U.S. State Department believes otherwise.
The move is likely intended to put pressure on the U.S. and its NATO allies to meet Russia’s diplomatic demands, including barring Ukraine from ever joining the alliance and removing troops from Eastern European countries.
The entire western bloc and news media are abuzz with talks of war on the horizon, with British leaders putting soldiers on standby for war. Despite all the talk, however, Russia will not invade soon.
To put it simply, the costs of the wars are far too high with much of the western bloc working towards a solution. Ukraine itself is urging the hysteria around the war to stop, showcasing that worry about war is misguided.
It’s also clear what Russia stands to lose: Biden has threatened sanctions that could cripple politicians. In addition, a key gas pipeline called the “Nord Stream 2” between Germany and Russia is under construction and could be canceled should war break out, which would cause a huge economic loss to Russia and the rest of Europe.
Russia is a key supplier of gas to Europe, and if the Nord Stream 2 construction is canceled, they would both suffer in the face of already rising gas prices. And that’s just by declaring war.
Russia recently annexed Crimea, but doing the same to the rest of Ukraine is much more challenging partly given its size and connection to the U.S. Russia could likely annex the entire country as their military vastly outnumbers Ukraine’s, along with a lack of Ukrainian allies (NATO has not pledged military support for Ukraine, only stating that there will be “severe consequences” on Russia in response to an invasion), but they’ll likely lose thousands of soldiers, as Ukraine has been bolstering its military.
Plus, Finland’s Prime Minister overtly stated that it would join NATO should Russia invade, forcing Russia to consider more NATO influence on its borders. NATO troops have been in Eastern European countries for years. Sure, Putin believes Ukraine belongs to Russia based on their shared past, but why invade now? It doesn’t make much sense economically, militarily or geopolitically.
Putin’s geopolitical track record over the years makes it even harder to believe that he’ll do so. He backed out of Syria in 2018 after the U.S. killed Russian mercenaries and stood idly by after Turkey did the same, refusing to join forces with Armenia after Turkish-backed Azerbaijan attacked them.
Yulia Latynina, a journalist writing for the New York Times, believes the urgency for bluffing an attack now instead of then is in order to capitalize on America’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. America has shown her weakness, and Putin believes he can get American concessions.
Ukraine’s government certainly believes that threats of an imminent invasion are overblown. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said last week that “We don’t see any grounds for statements about a full-scale offensive on our country.”
Regardless, the Ukrainian military has accepted $200 million worth of lethal weapons from the U.S. and NATO as a deterrent.
President Volodymyr Zelensky also said during a news conference that “I don’t consider the situation now tenser than before. There is a feeling abroad that there is war here. That’s not the case.”