Editor: Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, President, American Center for Democracy (ACD)
See the sources for this article and more research in the Additional Reading section
President Vladimir Putin (69) is one of the smartest, most savvy politicians in Russia. Over the past 23 years, his power and authority grew each time he was elected ‘democratically’. He helped stabilize the country after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. But Putin’s current invasion of Ukraine will go down in history as one of worst blunders ever made by a leader. Tragically, Putin outsmarted himself. What was he thinking?
Here are a few reasons for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine:
1) Putin feels a sense of responsibility for bringing Russian-speakers, especially former subjects (citizens) of the USSR, back into Russia, to recreate the old Russian empire. After all, Russia succeeded in occupying and annexing South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Russia, without much pushback.2) Russia is a secular state with 145 million people, of whom 80% are Christians and ethnic Russians, and nearly 15% are Muslim. As of December 2021, the Russian population’s growth rate was -0.2%. By 2050, Muslims are anticipated to become 30% of the population. But, by adding Ukraine’s 44 million mostly Christian population, Russia’s demographics would be strengthened.
3) Putin invaded Georgia in 2008. The entire operation took only five days, in which Russia succeeded in occupying and annexing South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Russia. The rest of the world paid little attention.In March 2014, Putin invaded the Crimean Peninsula, which was part of Ukraine. He succeeded in occupying the Republic of Crimea, and the federal city of Sevastopol. Four years later, in March 2018, Putin made it official, signing the Treaty of Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia. Putin was condemned by Western countries and the U.N. refused to recognize the annexation. While Russia was sanctioned, it didn’t suffer any consequences. Therefore, why not invade Ukraine?
4) Putin watched with total dismay when current Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy became president in 2019 with 73% of the vote, defeating the very corrupt Petro Poroshenko, who in 2015 awarded George Soros with Ukraine’s Order of Liberty. Putin’s efforts to co-opt Zelenskyy failed. So, it was time to remove him. Moreover, the aging Putin Putin believes that he is the only one uniquely qualified to do it. 5) Since the majority of the population in Eastern Ukraine is Russian speaking, Putin wanted to annex the region to create another buffer to protect it from NATO.
7) Putin did not fear Biden, who begged him to drill more oil to supply the U.S., after banning American drilling and fracking on federal lands, and shipping of oil and natural gas abroad. He knows Biden is weak, feeble, and corrupt. And with the acquisition of Ukraine, Russia would add the major fields of natural gas reserves under the Black Sea near Odessa to its energy rich assets, and enrich itself in the competitive energy market.
8) Putin saw how the Chinese (CCP) attacked and humiliated the U.S. by unleashing an engineered strain of Covid-19, deliberately spreading it in the U.S., and killing nearly one million Americans, as well as close to six million people worldwide. The U.S. never officially blamed China and never pressed for compensation.
9) Witnessing Biden’s disastrous surrender to the Taliban terrorists and his catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Putin, as well as the rest of the world, realized that Biden’s national security team is incompetent.10) Putin understands that America is in decline. He has been witnessing the results of Biden’s disastrous domestic policies, from open borders to growing racial division, cultural decline, and an enormous rise in crime.
11) Putin’s team in Vienna is encouraging the Americans to agree to the new JCPOA, which will renew the disastrous agreement that Obama’s team negotiated with Iran in 2015. Biden is readily caving into the Iranian terrorist regime’s demands, which allow them to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, sell their oil in the free market, and use the money to fund their terrorist groups around the world.
12) Putin doesn’t like NATO on Russia’s borders, and doesn’t want Ukraine joining NATO. He sees the Western alliance, thopugh led by the incompetent Biden, as a threat.
13) By going into Ukraine, he thought that he could destabilize the oil and gas markets, which would put upward pressure on energy prices. That, in his mind, would be a good thing.
14) Putin has jailed his key opposition opponent, Alexei Navalny, and thus he feels that there are few political impediments to his decisions and actions.
However, Putin underestimated Ukrainian comedian-turned-President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people’s resolve for independence. He also overestimated the competence of the Russian troops he sent to Ukraine. He was surprised by the Europeans’ new-found backbone, particularly Germany.
He also underestimated the negative impact of the new sanctions on the Russian economy. He may have underestimated the loyalty of the Russian oligarchs, whose bank accounts and possessions have been frozen and seized around the world.
In just one week, he destroyed his legacy as the clever, cunning, great Russian leader. This may well be the beginning of his end. Sadly, his greed and miscalculations have destroyed Ukraine, and needlessly ended the lives of many thousands of innocent Ukrainians, as well as Russian soldiers, whom he sent to die.
Putin is not done, yet. Even if he stops now, he will always be remembered as the Butcher of Ukraine