Invasion of Ukraine

The continuing tragedy unfolding in Eastern Ukraine is at risk of becoming so commonplace as to lose the world’s attention. In light of this risk, I set about reviewing the underlying political motives, which sparked the invasion.

Before the Russians crossed the border friends asked me if Putin would invade. I was convinced that he would not, since I believed that he had already achieved most of his aims without the risk of actually fighting. Obviously, I was mistaken. The media and various pundits are making the point that Putin is on a mission, like Peter the Great, to “restore” Russian greatness. I no longer accept this argument.

Setting aside the mental stability of the Russian Madman, he is actually reverting to a foreign policy that was in place during his formative years. The Soviet Union was never comfortable having anyone on its border who was leading his country towards becoming a liberal democracy. Neighbours who were despots or totalitarians were acceptable, as long as they were not holding up the promise of freedom. Such a promise was too attractive for those inside the ‘worker’s paradise’ to be permitted. Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia and Hungary for this reason but never crossed into Romania. Even an oppressed Soviet worker was not so desperate as to want to emigrate to Romania under a soviet leader.

We are now in a new phase of this war or as the Correlates of War Project (CoW) calls such conflicts, a Militarized Interstate Dispute (MID). Looking at the date from the CoW, the Economist says that Russia’s invasion not only bucks the historical trend, it is an aberration. As an historian, I can tell you that aberrations are eventually quashed by the inexorable flow of historical events. In English: Putin is attempting to reverse the flow of history and that never ends well. Never.

I have been saying privately that I see no positive outcome from this criminal invasion. Most particularly, there is no positive outcome for either Russia or its unbalanced leader. My powers of divination are weak but if the historical ‘tea leaves’ are to be believed, Mr Putin will soon be sharing the fate of his predecessors like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein et al.

2 thoughts on “Invasion of Ukraine

  1. It was Saint Crispin’s Day a few days back. The French were inexorable. Henry V wished not one man more. At Bastogne, the Wehrmacht was inexorable. A wise man told me they were stopped because one American soldier threw his bayonet in the snow and said not one step back. The Russian invasion was inexorable, and President Zelensky said he needed ammunition, not a ride. Things are inexorable until they aren’t. Not to say I disagree with your read of events; quite the opposite. But I also fear we in the west have a tendency to hand-wave away the hard work with rhetoric (See President Obama and the arc of history bending to justice, Prime Minister Trudeau and…well, just about anything). Forget reading tea leaves; this is a time to brew coffee in canteen cups in the assembly area. Or at the very least bend the fires of industry to giving the Ukrainians everything we can, lest we find ourselves thinking ourselves accurs’d and holding our manhoods cheap.


    1. You are absolutely (and most eloquently) correct. That said, as an historian, I do feel that some outcomes are inexorable. This is one. The Russians have lost the heart to battle to a favourable outcome. That benighted people may have reached another turning point in their dark history (as in 1917 or 1990). I cannot foretell the future but of this I am certain: Zelensky will defeat Putin.

      PS: If need be, this old soldier’s canteen cup is ready.


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