Ukraine’s Starting to Get Dangerous

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by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:

A lot of people seem to have forgotten about the war in Ukraine. That’s a mistake.

Russia is slowly but steadily defeating Ukraine, which is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone except the most anti-Russian diehards.

That’s leading to desperation in elite Western circles determined to stop Russia one way or the other. In their minds, they simply can’t let Putin win. They think that if Putin wins in Ukraine, he’ll next move on to the Baltic states, Poland and elsewhere.

You know the West is getting desperate based on recent threats by France’s Emmanuel Macron to send troops to Ukraine.

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The vice president of the Russia Duma, Pyotr Tolstoy (descendant of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy), warned that French troops would be priority targets for Russian forces if they entered Ukraine.

Even though France would send troops independent of NATO, that puts us on a very dangerous path that ultimately leads to direct conflict between NATO and Russia. And that path ends in nuclear war ultimately.

Tolstoy added that it would take “just two minutes to nuke Paris.” It’s not hard to envision how quickly things could escalate if France decided to send troops to Ukraine.

More Escalation

Meanwhile, NATO is preparing to send F-16s to Ukraine. Airfields in Ukraine are highly vulnerable to Russian attack, especially since Ukraine’s air defenses are heavily depleted at this point and the Russian air force is becoming increasingly active in Ukraine.

But if NATO allows the F-16s to be based on its own airbases, Putin has warned that these airfields would become a “legitimate target” if strikes against Russian forces were launched from them.

By the way, Russia has hypersonic missiles that NATO has no practical ability to shoot down, so these attacks would likely be successful. Of course, NATO would have to retaliate in kind. You can imagine where all this could lead.

We’re already well along the escalation ladder. And the higher you go, the more face you stand to lose if you back down. I warned about that from the outset of the war.

But the entire notion that Russia poses some existential threat to NATO or Europe is absurd.

Putin Has Nothing to Gain and Everything to Lose

First off, the theory that Putin will invade other countries if he wins in Ukraine is nonsense. The Russian army lacks the men and materiel to occupy Ukraine while simultaneously invading other countries.

This isn’t the Soviet Union with its massive tank armies poised to roll over Western Europe. And Soviet communism is long dead, so there’s no ideological basis for Russia to invade Europe. These days Russia is a conservative, Orthodox Christian nation.

But more importantly, Putin has absolutely no incentive to invade any of these nations, which are NATO members. What do they have that he wants?

All it would do is trigger Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all, inviting a massive NATO response. At that point, you’re on the fast track to nuclear war.

Putin is fully aware of that.

Fearmongers like to point to what Putin once said in a speech: “Whoever doesn’t miss the Soviet Union doesn’t have a heart.”

They take that as proof that he wants to recreate the Soviet Union. But they conveniently omit what he said next:

“Whoever wants it back doesn’t have a brain.”

Whatever you think of Putin, he definitely has a brain. He has no intention to restore the Soviet Union.

It’s Not Just About Intentions

But like any great power, Russia has interests, and Ukraine has always been a vital strategic interest to Russia.

And Russia is not going to tolerate Ukraine joining a NATO alliance that’s hostile to Russia. Critics say Ukraine is a free and independent nation that can join NATO if it wants. Russia has no say in the matter, even though Ukraine borders Russia.

Well, I guess they never heard of the Monroe Doctrine. The U.S. basically declared the entire Western hemisphere its own domain. But a great power like Russia can’t have a say in its own backyard?

Critics also say that the idea of NATO invading Russia is ridiculous. That’s just Russian paranoia. And that’s true, NATO isn’t going to actually invade Russia. But it’s not just intentions that count in the world of geopolitics. It’s also capabilities.

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