People tend to cling to ideas of them and us; that we stick together and we are fighting them. While this strengthens the bonds within the group you are in, it also alienates you from other groups which enforces conflict. I think it is useful to turn this around and hypothetically imagine if I was with “them” instead, to further my understanding of how “they” think.
Right now, the highest level of conflict is between Russia and the West. Western news is filled with propaganda, enforcing the “us vs them” agenda. Part of the propaganda is to talk about how “they” (Russia in this case) are using propaganda shamelessly. Russia is deploying a similar strategy, in saying that Ukraine is full of nazis while the ones acting most similarly to nazis are actually the Russians. Neither side is the “good” side in this – both sides act despicably.
What if I was a Russian leader, or THE Russian leader?
Russia is almost a synonym for Soviet. While Soviet was built around an ideological bond, Russia is built around a cultural bond, but they are rather similar. Russia is actually the mother of “us vs them”-thinking, in terms of them having a long standing tradition of standing united against everyone else. With good reason, because there have been many attempts at conquering Russia. Romans didn’t venture far to the north-east, but the mongols certainly ventured far west and conquered both Russia and large parts of Europe before they collapsed. Kosacks from what is now Kazakhstan also raided north. Swedish viking frequently went east, and I would not be surprised to learn that we share a lot of our DNA. Even more recently, Sweden has invaded Russia and suffered defeats as far east as Poltava (which is actually, ahem, in Ukraine). Napoleon Bonaparte led the french east, and Hitler tried to go east too. In the end, all invasions have failed and the russians have remained. This is obviously something that unites the people, and can be used by a leader to great effect.
After World War II, it was agreed that the USA would stay out of eastern Europe and the Soviet would stay out of western Europe. As the communist states turned over to capitalism, the Soviet empire crumbled, and Russia found it difficult to keep their allies close. As a result, USA managed to “invade” the Baltic states (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia), Poland, Hungary, and Turkey. Like a noose, USA has continued to put pressure on the veins that sustains Russian life; trade through the Baltic sea and Black sea. USA has used an effective strategy, which is the same as the Romans used 2000 years ago. First, you show your enemies the best you’ve got but never the worst, which is to a large extent accomplished through Hollywood productions. Second, you act with politics and shadow maneuvers to install leaders that subscribe to your own philosophy. In this way, USA has tricked and pushed its way closer and closer to Russia, cutting off more and more of their trade and sustenance through taxing every passage.
One of Russias largest exports, and a cornerstone of their economy, is oil and gas. To improve this export, two large pipelines were constructed across the Baltic sea to Germany for fast and easy delivery of natural gas (LPG) and huge incomes. Then USA stepped in and made it impossible to open the second large pipe despite billions being invested already and the first pipe open for business. Meanwhile, Ukraine was worked on with hopes of getting them too to join NATO and close the noose around Russia one final step. Worried that their trade routes through the Black sea were threatened, Russia took over the Crimea so that a path out through the Mediterranean would be secured. Not really secured, though, because Turkey controls the path from Black sea to Mediterranean and they unveiled plans to construct a new channel for increased taxation of ships (circumventing a long standing agreement of free passage through the actual Bosphorous sound). As if that wasn’t enough, the green movement means less oil and gas sales in the future. Russian economy and the whole nation was put under enormous pressure and threat.
MacDonalds, Starbucks, and various western franchises were starting to establish themselves inside Russia. In the media, this is portayed as a good thing, “because Russian food is so bad” &c. For Russia, this was actually worsening the threat, because not only was culture from USA pressuring their identity, franchises also leak money to their origin so every franchise opening in Russia means weaker economy to the benefit of USA. The situation was already becoming quite dire, showing no signs of improvement because propaganda from USA was undermining the national identity of russians so that they didn’t want to put up any resistance to the “secret invasion”.
What USA had done so well – installing their own leaders of foreign countries and spreading a culture of support for USA – was not really an option for Russia because they were running out of time. It’s not that Russia is so much worse than USA, it’s that they have been one step behind all the way in campaigning and propaganda. We live in an information society and we are fighting information wars. Wars that Russia were losing. One of the strengths Russia always had through modern times is its nuclear arsenal, which means no one dares invade them any more. Russia has been clear that any invasion of their territory means they will unleash nuclear war upon the world. But how do you defend yourself from this vague and intangible invasion of economy and politics?
Russia should have acted sooner. They woke up too late. Always one step behind in matters of counterintelligence and shadow maneuvers. Not so strange because after World War II most of the prominent scientists were gathered by USA to build their infrastructure of modern technology which it would take many years for the rest of the world to even come close to. Given the state of things, they had to do something, an act to ensure their survival was necessary.
One way would be to go west from Moscow and continue building on infrastructure through the Baltic sea. But the Baltic states were already members of NATO so any movement there would be scrutinized by USA and used as an excuse to pressure Russia even harder. Another way would be to go north or east, but that would be the longest way from Moscow and problems with infrastructure due to cost of transports and especially during winter. Since Ukraine didn’t join NATO yet, but was threatening to submit their application, going south was the obvious choice. Meanwhile, it was evident that Russia couldn’t fight USA head on. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq already stood as testaments that when USA pushes closer to Russia with military might, Russia cannot withstand the pressure. So an act to go south would have to come before Ukraine joins NATO. More than that, the pressure from USA would be severe at any sign of struggle against their invasion. Optimally, an invasion of Ukraine should be swift and brutal. However, there is also viability in playing the long game.
Just like USA has been weakening and fighting Russia from the outside, pushing closer to Russias borders, Russia has had a long game of trying to weaken USA from within. USA have two open coastlines with desert to the south and frozen tundra to the north, so they have never had the need to push their actual borders outward and there are no countries (except possibly Cuba, where USA was close to start a nuclear war themselves when Russia moved in) that Russia could work on to establish a presence. Instead of pressuring from the outside, working from the inside is the best option in fighting USA, and Russia has done so with a lot of success. Donald Trump has been a Russian pawn for a long time, and still managed to grab the presidential office where he could spy on the most intimate secrets for mother Russia. USA have been fighting back, of course, spreading a constant fear of “communism” among their ranks, but even so Russia has effectively sponsored riots and upheavals through radicalization of the police force along with Black Lives Matter movements on the other side to spark what comes close to a civil war. While the sales of oil and gas benefit Russian economy, reducing the availability of fossil fuels creates chaos all over the western world, which makes USA look bad. Selling to India and China helps Russian economy but doesn’t damage USA because it means more oil and gas from other sources are available to them. Similarly, food is a global resource and removing a source of food impacts the whole western hemisphere in a bad way. Attacking Ukraine makes sense if you play the long game too, because it is the bread basket of Europe and Africa, and Europe feels bad for past colonialism in Africa so they won’t allow famine there just to protect their own agendas. By limiting oil and gas, and removing Ukraine as a food source, Russia wins big in the long game because the rising costs and runaway inflation in the western countries will spark even more unrest and possibly riots.
Russia needs Ukraine for the passage and trade, but if NATO is going to block that anyway there is nothing to lose. Russia doesn’t need the food from Ukraine, because rising global temperatures means more and more land in Russia becomes fertile with increased agricultural yields. The only thing that threatens Russia is the silent invasion of neighboring countries, and Russia will be fine as long as they are kept at a distance. Invading Ukraine also sends a message to other neighboring countries that they shouldn’t try to go that route. So it stands clear that due to the threat of USA invading Ukraine, Russia has nothing to lose by invading Ukraine themselves.
So what now?
Now that we have made clear that an invasion of Ukraine was the only option left for Russia, due to the actions of USA, the question is where to go from here? A swift victory would have been preferable, which is why Russia sent spetznaz troops at the start of the war to capture Kiev. But it wasn’t to be, so we are stuck in the long game. What could pull us out of the long game, or rather give us a temporary defeat in the long game, is if Ukraine were somehow victorious. Unfortunately, NATO resources have been flowing into Ukraine in a steady stream since the start of the war, and most importantly the USA dominance of information with their spy satellites and high technology have given Ukrainian armies the egde they never should have had. A war that should have been over by now is in fact pushing Russia back, entirely due to USA and its allies who have been given an excuse to step even closer to the Russian border with a war of invasion. So how to handle this?
Nuclear strike is always an option, remember that USA have been closer than Russia to push the button before (Cuba for example) when they were pressured much less than Russia is pressured right now. Make no mistake, USA is to blame if it comes to nuclear weapons being used, but who is to say what the history books will say (if such things exist after nuclear winter). Using nuclear weapons in Ukraine is not a good option though, because the winds will probably blow north at some point and poison Russian soil. That said, USA invading with weapons and technology has meant that Russian resources are strained already and a repeat of Afghanistan or similar countries is likely. So what to do?
Right now, the long game is too slow. Backing out of Ukraine is not an option, because they it would be a free for all among other neighboring states for USA. Winning in the Ukraine seems more and more unlikely, as they are refueled and provided for by the entire western world while Russia stands alone and neither China nor India is standing up for support. Is there a draw? Something that can move USA back while Russia doesn’t need to take control?
There has to be guarantees that Ukraine won’t join NATO and not the EU. There has to be guarantees for a continued trade route through the Black sea. The captured areas of eastern Ukraine ensures just that – a guarantee of trade – so they need to stay Russian. Problem is, USA is showing no sign of allowing that, they keep pushing more military might towards Russia. To steer Ukraine away from NATO and EU Zelensky has to go, along with his lackeys. Problem is, he has become a national hero due to very successful propaganda (wait for the Hollywood movie to come out and it will get worse) and there is no way of removing him through anything resembling democracy. No, to avoid nuclear strikes, Zelensky and all his lackeys need to die, but that is not enough because after Zelensky is removed Russia needs enough space to install a somewhat neutral government (similarly to how USA has acted in its southern areas and in countries with resources they want). Right now, there is no sign of USA backing down there either.
In fact, what it comes down to is, nuclear is the only option left if Russia wants to survive as a nation. It’s either that, or sign the whole country over to USA. And USA won’t let the country live on, it will be divided into smaller units, broken apart in a way that will never allow it to rise to its past glory ever again. If USA is allowed to act like that even against one of the world superpowers, then there is nothing stopping them in the future. It would be irresponsible to give up. But also irresponsible to strike with nuclear in a way that invites nuclear retaliation. So it has to be a small charge, like what USA did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just a nudge over Kiev and maybe Lviv to show what lies ahead if Ukraine and USA doesn’t back down.
What USA does after that is up to them. It will prove once and for all who the real transgressor are. Because a nuclear strike from Russia has become a necessity, but a response from USA is not at all necessary. No one invaded USA after they bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and no one need to do anything if Russia defends itself close to their own borders. Due to the secret invasion of so many countries, USA has set the stage for a necessary nuclear strike from Russia, but the real question is what USA is planning to respond with. Are they hoping for an excuse to try and annihilate Russia, with the hopes of being able to defend themselves against the nuclear missiles that are bound to be sent their way if they do?
All of it appears to be out of Russias hand. Their actions at this point are forced, and there is little they can do about it. USA have painted them in a corner, and the only way to escape is to walk over wet paint. Unpleasant, but has to be done.
Russia is not preparing any nuclear weapons. Russia doesn’t want to use nuclear weapons. In fact, they have made very clear for a long time that if USA doesn’t back off, their hand will be forced. USA haven’t backed down. USA have made themselves the enemy of the whole world, to the sound of thunderous applause in most of the countries they have enslaved.