The Russian invasion has been an exercise in hubristic, self-destructive overreach of a sort that we have rarely seen in the postwar era.
"The costs to Russia have been massive"? How so?
Also, they've just been reacting to the West since 2014. What would the costs have been to Russia if it had ignored the next Ukrainian assault on the Donbas?
Sorry, but there is an alternative way to see the actions of Russia than the one presented here, even if this version is the one almost universally accepted in the collective west. For starters, Ukraine has been independent since 1991 and Russia never disputed its right. However, as Ukraine came under the influence of rabidly anti-Russian factions as a result of a violent coup in 2014, Russia has felt the need to defend its interests. This is not a case of Russia invading Ukraine but rather a case of Russia taking sides in a Civil War within Ukraine, an action with which the USA has great familiarity. It will be up to the people in Ukraine to finally decide how they want to deal with their neighbors but one thing is sure: Russia cannot countenance a neighbor joining a hostile military alliance in its back yard. Russia has made its position clear over many years. But no one is listening.
If the costs to Russia have been massive, it certainly isn't reflected in the value of the ruble against the dollar or its relations with major Eurasian powers. As for hubristic, self-destructive overreach, in my view Russia is eclipsed by Europe which is presently engaged in a lunatic murder-suicide pact to sacrifice its economies and people in its economic war against Russia which Europe and the U.S. started. Germany, in particular, is being de-industrialized due to ruinous energy costs which are largely self-inflicted with an assist from the Polish and Ukrainian governments and Nord Stream saboteurs. The incompetence and hubris of Western governments has been nothing short of staggering.
As for diplomatic solutions, from the earliest days of the war, both the U.S. and Britain have remained implacably opposed to diplomatic engagement with Russia to end the war. In fact, it appears that the U.S. and Britain are doing their utmost to extend the war as long as possible to weaken the Russian government and precipitate its collapse.
Good article—and it makes points condemning Putin and the Russian government in no uncertain terms that need to be said. Calling out murderous warmongers for their crimes seems like a healthy universal standard for anti-war types to abide by, regardless of whatever caveats could be added about other parties.
Like it not, Ukraine war skeptics are a minority and if one knows how one’s opponents are going to come at them—reductively labeling them as Putin apologists—to diminish their voice in the debate, why give them the easy layup?
Refreshing column. A spade is called a spade but that doesn't stop some commenters from seeing diamonds or clubs.
M. Larison, I'm not a professional foreign policy watcher, so I'm curious what odds you place on this article being 100% correct, versus Russia only trying to signal that the article is correct because it makes the West more likely to allow an end result in which Russia gets to keep these four regions. I'm thinking of Nixon's attempts to cultivate an image abroad as an unstable madman who might launch a nuke for no good reason, for game theory purposes.
Obv this involves assigning probabilities to different models of Putin and the people who keep him in power, but that's always been a rub in this field...