And the odds that Ukraine, shorn of nearly all its ethnic Russians, would ever again elect a president who’s soft on Moscow would be virtually nil. Ukraine would slip from Putin’s sphere of influence so utterly that the only way he’d be able to get it back into his orbit would be by invading and conquering the whole country.
Never mind the price he’d pay internationally for that kind of stunt; invading and occupying the largest country in Europe would require more than a half-million troops and God-only-knows how much money. And for what purpose? Ukraine poses no national security threat whatsoever to Russia.
The purpose would be, of course, to reestablish Russia’s “near-abroad,” a goal Putin has not been particularly opaque about desiring.
As for the half-million troops? Doubtful. The report Mike links is larded with faulty reasoning, and even faultier assumptions.
Faulty assumption one: That there will be an active and violent resistance.
Faulty assumption two: That Russian troops are not as “skilled” at COIN – counterinsurgency operations.
Active and violent resistance requires men, material, and money. But who is going to provide that? Europe certainly is not, and neither, I would hazard, will we.
As for COIN, absent a well-funded and supplied resistance, Russia won’t need military troops, when it already has skills and techniques for suppression designed and honed by the various forms of the Russian secret services, from the Cheka through the KGB to the current iteration of the same old story.
Russia, for instance, is a big subscriber to the notion that if you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow. The western conception of COIN hinges on the notion that everybody wants liberty and democracy, and so the way to suppress insurgencies is to supply these ideological goods to the masses. And this assumption is, of course, wrong more often than not. In much of the world, democracy is regarded as an attractive way to enshrine a majority viewpoint into leadership, after which democracy itself, having accomplished its purpose from this particular viewpoint, can be safely suppressed.
Which explains why Russians love Putin so much, even as he turns their democracy into a dictatorship, and suppresses many of the liberties they’d enjoyed after the fall of the USSR.
Bottom line: If Putin wants all of the Ukraine, he’ll take it, and it won’t be particularly difficult for him to do. Nor will he have many problems holding it afterwards, especially when the Russian version of the Gestapo gets done suppressing those problems.
Americans wage wars of democracy against insurrections. Russians wage wars of terror against them. In many places – and I suspect Ukraine is one of them – the second is more effective than the first.
Check out my new bestseller, Lightning Fall: A Novel of Disaster. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com says: “Bill Quick has authored a terrific thriller that is also an all too plausible warning. Highly recommended!” Available in Kindle e-book or trade paperback formats.