Too many people are spending too much time and resources trying to “read” Putin and what may be his next move. This is a waste of time. Russia must be judged by what it’s doing, not by what it’s saying.
Western analysts, journalists, governments and military experts should instead begin to treat Russia for what it is, or more correctly, for what it has become:
- Russia is now a terrorist state: the evidence that Russian military personnel transported the BUK missile system from Russian side of the border and into Donbas, and then by a mistake shot down MH-17, is overwhelming. The real target was most probably Aeroflot’s SU-2074 (Moscow-Larnaca), which passed over Donbas at the same time. The plan was to shoot down the Russian plane full of tourists, then blame Ukraine in order to do a full-scale invasion (this invasion was set to July 18). An international publication of the fact that the shooting down of MH-17 was initiated and orchestrated by Kremlin is the one thing Putin fears most (except being poisoned by his peers). And he should. Even the most indifferent masses in West will open their eyes and demand action. Russia is also organizing terrorist acts in Ukraine, by blowing up railway tracks and setting off car bombs. And as long as no war is declared, every Russian soldier and volunteer on Ukrainian soil is by definition a terrorist.
- Russia is a dangerous aggressor waging war on its neighbors. Western politicians, journalists and diplomats are afraid of threading big Russia on its toes, and are not yet ready to acknowledge the fact Russia’s military forces are fighting deep inside Ukraine, and have been doing so for over a year. This weak attitude has costed many Ukrainian lives, and has given Putin’s regime plenty of fuel to continue its aggressive line.
- Russia’s menace to use nuclear weapons. This is Russia’s only trump card, and they have threatened to use them on several occasions. Russia also plan to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea. This alone should be enough to kick Russia out of UN Security Council.
- Russian diplomats and politicians are notorious liars. How do you approach liars? Avoid them. Or – if you have to socialize with them from time to time – give them no important information. Fortunately, EU and NATO have started to take steps in order to limit access for Russian diplomats to important arenas.
- Russia is soon becoming a full-blown pseudo-Soviet fascist state. No free media and freedom of speech, killing opposition politicians, intensive militarization of the country swallows huge parts of the budget, dramatic increase in hatred against all foreign (especially American), people showing Ukrainian flags in public are thrown in jail, etc etc.
This is the reality we are facing. Western countries (Poland, Romania and Baltic states included) have to act accordingly and prepare for the next to worst: conventional military conflict (read: war) with Russia. We all know which is the worst case, and there is not much we can do about that.
The diplomatic efforts and sanctions have had very little effect, and both Minsk agreements are not worth the paper they were written on.
Even Putin himself doesn’t know what his next step will be, so the only recipe for the West is to act as if he plans for the worst. The bizarre warmongers in Russia media and the huge movements of troops and weapons to the Ukrainian border (and across it) show that Russia is ready for war.