Q: Why did Russia invade Ukraine?
Vladimir Putin is not a communist, but he was trained by the KGB. He experienced the fall of the Soviet Union as a humiliation. He would like to reconstitute the great Russia of pre-communist times to recover the Russian power of Soviet times and to advance the Eurasian project theorized by Alexander Dugin.
For him, Ukraine cannot be an independent country, it is part of the great Russia and must be reintegrated. For him too, the United States, an Atlantic power and enemy of the Eurasian project, must be fought and pushed back. Putin intends to return Ukraine to a status of limited sovereignty and, in the long term, to integrate it into Russia. Of course, in the immediate future, he intends to prevent it from joining NATO and the European Union.
He would also like to ensure that NATO is not present in the countries bordering Russia, because NATO is, in his eyes, an organization serving the enemy power. Putin’s initial goal was to turn the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics into Russian protectorates backed by the Russian army, to destroy the Ukrainian army and to overthrow the Ukrainian authorities and replace them with authorities subject to Russia.
He obviously did not expect the resistance of the Ukrainian army and population and the heroic behavior of President Zelinsky, so he had to revise his strategy. He wanted to wage a limited blitzkrieg. He had to switch to a longer, more conventional war, but his objectives remain essentially the same.
Q: What are the causes of this war?
The fundamental cause of the war is Putin’s desire to achieve the results I just outlined. The cause of the war is also the weakness and behavior of the Biden administration. If Donald Trump were still president, the war would not have happened.
Donald Trump knows that Putin establishes power relations: if he sees a strong opponent who can counter him, he does not act. If he sees a weak opponent, he thinks he has an opportunity to act, and he does. The Biden administration, by shutting down the Keystone pipeline and ending energy production on U.S. federal lands, has moved the United States from a position of energy self-sufficiency to one of energy dependence and energy dependence on Russia.
It has not only placed the United States in a position of weakness, it has also placed it in a position of vulnerability. It has also dramatically increased gas and oil prices, giving Putin all the money he needs to finance the war. Putin blames NATO for accepting Central European countries into its fold: Central European countries are no longer subject to the Soviet Union and are free to join a defense organization.
Under Trump, Putin did not use this argument, because he knew what Trump would say. NATO does not threaten Russia, and would only threaten Russia if Putin intended to attack NATO member countries. Putin could demand more strongly an autonomous status for the Donbass regions, even placing them under Russian protection, which he would never have done under Trump. Now he is attacking Ukraine, and wants to overthrow its government, because he knows what the Biden administration is.
Q: What will be the consequences of this conflict?
It is impossible to say, because the conflict is ongoing. I think Putin, at least today, wants a Russian-influenced zone detached from Ukraine that would include all of Donbass and the shores of the Sea of Azov, and perhaps extend as far as Odessa, and I think he would accept, at least today, an independent Ukraine under limited sovereignty consisting of western Ukraine.
This would only be possible after the fall of the present Ukrainian government and the destruction of the Ukrainian army. I think he will go to any lengths to achieve this result. The United States under Biden will not be able to do anything about it, and I don’t think it will. The European countries in NATO cannot and will not do anything about it either.
The current sanctions are not capable of stopping Putin, and if the U.S. and European NATO countries put in place tougher sanctions, they will create serious damage to their own economies. Neither the U.S. nor the European NATO countries will declare war on Russia: that would be the beginning of a world war.
Russia is already turning to China, and a Russia-China strategic and economic alliance is being consolidated and will continue to be consolidated. The Iran of the mullahs is an ally of Russia and China, and is part of this alliance. A new Cold War is taking place, and it will include destructive episodes, the war in Ukraine is one episode.
Q: Will China follow Russia’s example and invade Taiwan?
This is undoubtedly part of Xi Jinping’s plans. The weakness of the Biden administration and the fact that it has placed the United States in a vulnerable position opens a window of opportunity for China similar to the one opened for Russia, and Xi Jinping is thinking of using this window of opportunity.
He is likely waiting for the Russian offensive in Ukraine to progress before acting. It is, alas, likely that he will act in the coming months. And, of course, the Biden administration will do nothing if he does. The United States, because of the Biden administration is dependent on Russia for energy, is far more dependent on China, and cannot contemplate sanctioning China without inflicting catastrophic damage on the U.S. economy.
It was foreseeable that the installation in power of the Biden administration would lead to global disasters: I predicted it in January 2021. Those who rejoiced at the ejection of the Trump administration did not, it seems, analyze or understand what was going to happen.
They won’t even say that the Trump years were years of much greater stability. They are ideologically blind, and do not want to see what has been a very visible rule for more than a century: when the United States has a weak administration, disorder sets in on the planet, when it has a strong administration, order returns and reigns on the planet.