Why Putin Won’t Invade Ukraine

Why Putin Won’t Invade Ukraine. By Loren Thompson.

There is little doubt that Russia’s vastly superior forces are capable of overrunning Ukraine, particularly the region east of the Dnieper river where many ethnic Russian live. Moscow has been aiding a rebellion of ethnic Russians in the east against the central government since 2014, when it seized the Crimean Peninsula — the other area where ethnic Russians predominate.

However, Moscow’s military moves to date seem more calculated to influence the behavior of the Ukrainian government than actually occupy the country.

Risk aversion:

Vladimir Putin undoubtedly would like to project an image similar to that of the brave bogatyrs who populate Slavic mythology, but his operating style more closely resembles the behavior of a different regional archetype: the cunning peasant who plays a weak hand well.

Putin has maintained power for two decades by standing up to the West without taking big chances. Invading a nation of 40 million where four out of five inhabitants are non-Russian would entail incalculable uncertainties — uncertainties that might ultimately endanger Putin’s hold on power. Taking such risks would be out of character.

You break it, you own it:

That’s what Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President Bush before the U.S. invaded Iraq, a formulation that has come to be known as the Pottery Barn rule. An invasion of Ukraine would require Russia to occupy part or all of Europe’s poorest, most corrupt country.

Assuming that Moscow does not envision genocidal extermination of non-Russians, it would then have to subsidize a restive developing nation that is recovering from the effects of war. That burden would persist indefinitely, imposing big costs on the Russian state for returns that are likely to be quite modest.

Tucker Carlson majored in history for his bachelors degree, and I seem to remember it was in Russian history. Which would make him one of the few in the US media to know what they are talking about on Ukraine.

hat-tip Stephen Neil