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TIME OUT! Let's think this through. We are told that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was "unprovoked." But was it?
How can we estimate how far west Russia's forces will advance, without knowing why Russia invaded Ukraine in the first place? Theories abound; evidence is available but is overlooked, or hidden.
I apply the skills I learned as a Kremlinologist to scrub official statements, rinse them thoroughly, and squeeze out meaning.
This was known, back in the day, as "media analysis" and remains a lucrative tool. Often, though, it requires "getting into the weeds." Those weeds cannot always be included in more broad-brush analyses like those of John Mearsheimer, but often add a brick or two to the foundation of his incisive conclusions.
To include weeds and bricks in digestible form I included slides. But the tone is informal, unpolished.
There was not enough time to pay adequate attention to the broader implications of the war in Ukraine. The new conditions brought on by the war in Ukraine constitute, in my view, a liminal event. Putin, in effect, has decided to put an end to Peter the Great's (early 1700s) foundational effort to play catch-up ball with the West and shoehorn a relatively backward Russia into Europe.
Now the "window" Peter tried to break through to Europe has been closed shut - at least for the nonce. Russia is backward no more and has powerful supporters elsewhere - many of whom are similarly fed up with the West.
An iron curtain, so to speak, has been drawn down on the Russian side of Peter's window, as Putin looks east for less threatening friends - allies even. The world has again become bipolar; but now it's the lily-white West against pretty much the rest of the world. As the Chinese officials used to put it in the vernacular (while issuing umpteen warnings to the West), "This will come to a no-good end."
One can but hope that the East will remain aware of Sun Tzu's dictum of 25 centuries ago:
"Avoiding a clash with great powers does not indicate cowardice, but wisdom, because sacrificing oneself is never an advantage anywhere" (The Art of War).