Deep in the flat and featureless landscape of eastern Ukraine, it is all too possible that the outline of World War III is taking shape.
Whipped up by the Kremlin propaganda machine and led by Russian military intelligence, armed men are erecting road blocks, storming police stations and ripping down the country’s flag.
They are demolishing not just their own country — bankrupt, ill-run and beleaguered — but also the post-war order that has kept most of Europe and us, here in Britain, safe and free for decades.
Vladimir Putin is striking at the heart of the West.
His target is our inability to work with allies in defence against common threats. The profoundly depressing fact is that the events of the past few months, as Russia has annexed the Crimea and suppressed opposition in Ukraine, have shown the West to be divided, humiliated and powerless in the face of these land grabs.
We are soon to face a bleak choice. We can chose to surrender any responsibility we have to protect Ukraine and the Baltic states — almost certainly Putin’s next target — from further Russian incursion. Or we can mount a last-ditch attempt to deter Russia from furthering its imperial ambitions.
If we do choose to resist Putin, we will risk a terrifying military escalation, which I do not think it an exaggeration to say could bring us to the brink of nuclear war.
Putin knows that. And he believes we will choose surrender. ...I don't think anyone knows where this is leading ... perhaps not even Putin. So far, the Ukrainian crises only involves those portions of Ukraine that are primarily of Russian ethnicity/language. However, I'm not interested in debating Putin's intentions, but would rather discuss some of the other points raised above. To do that, I will assume, for sake of argument, that Lucas is correct in predicting that Putin has "imperial ambitions."
Lucas claims that Putin is "striking at the heart of the West" by targeting "our inability to work with allies in defence against common threats." I don't think Putin is striking at anything--he is merely reading Europe correctly. The air campaign against Libya demonstrated for one and all that Europe is a paper tiger, wholly dependent on the United States for military prowess. Not only did Europe lack munitions to carry out a protracted air campaign, but it is largely incapable of projecting force.
Britain's navy is a dream of a shadow of its former self and France lacks a serious navy. The two nations plan on sharing a single aircraft carrier between them! No other European country has the ability to project force beyond its immediate coastal waters.
In addition, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan showed that many members of the EU are undependable as allies. Spain pulled out after a single terrorist attack. In fact, other than Britain, the Western European nations contributed little or nothing. Moreover, many Germans are actually sympathetic to Russia's stance toward the Ukraine. I doubt that Turkey or Greece would want to become involved. Thus, not considering the United States, the principle opposition to any aggressive moves would have to come from Britain and the former East Bloc nations, primarily Poland.
Unfortunately, Russia has also read Obama and the United States and found the U.S. to be wanting. Obama promised Russia more freedom to maneuver about something after this last election, and that "something" appears to be Eastern Europe. On top of that, I think most Americans are war weary, and don't view the situation in the Ukraine to be critical to the United States. Economic issues are the forefront of most Americans' minds.
So, in short, Russia is not "striking" at anything, but merely shining a light on what is already obvious.