A View from Estonia

A View from Estonia. By Estonia’s Ministry of Defence.

Most of Russia’s attention is currently focused on its ruthless war in Ukraine, but Putin has not lost sight of the bigger objectives. …

Russia’s long-term strategic aims remain unchanged: to dissolve the rules-based world order.

Putin has written and talked about this for the past 15 years, and Russia’s actions have brutally proved it. Re-establishing spheres of influence in Eastern Europe and recreating buffer zones are the key steps in turning the current international order around for Russia. This is the most important reason why Russian tanks rolled over the Ukrainian border on February 24, 2022, and why similar scenarios have unfolded …

Should Russia manage to gain any territory as a result of this war – either de jure at a negotiation table or de facto by freezing the situation in its current state, keeping the occupied areas under its authority for a longer time — it will have essentially moved closer to its goal. The Kremlin will have demonstrated that altering national borders with military force is feasible and the West and its rules-based world order can be weakened.

Hence, as long as the territorial integrity of Ukraine has not been fully restored, it is the rules-based order of the West that is facing a strategic failure. It may have come at a higher cost than expected, but Russia is still on track towards its strategic aims. Historically, political concessions are only a fast track to another “special military operation”, possibly against Allied countries.

If it works, why stop?

CDR Salamander:

Few have a better national understanding of Russia than the Estonians, and it shows …

Anyway, there is no positive gain for the USA or its European allies — or anyone really — if Russia continues to gain territory through military means. She is in the middle of demographic collapse in any event. The odds of her maintaining her borders over the next 50-yrs are small. There simply will not be enough “Russians” to defend Russia. …

Could it all go south and get worse? Sure can.

Will it all go south and get worse if the West were to leave Ukraine to its fate? Unquestionably.

Regardless of what cards come out of the deck, it is better for Ukrainians to fight for Ukrainian independence east of the Dnieper, than for an American-Polish force to try to hold the line at the Vistula long enough for a German-British-Franco led force to set a second line at the Oder.

Averting your eyes from what Russia decided to do west of the Azov since 2014 will not make it go away — however inconvenient it is to anyone’s pet theory.

Collective defence against annexation by large military powers has been the dream ever since 1918. It totally failed with the League of Nations between the World Wars. It happened in Korea in 1950 only because Russia inexplicably failed to veto the resolution authorizing UN intervention. It happened in 1990 after Saddam’s Iraq annexed Kuwait. And now it’s happened in a weaker form (defensive weapons but no troops) in 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Maybe it will catch on.