I admit, I was surprised by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. I thought Vladimir Putin had decided, instead of invading, to recognize the separatist republics and send in “peacekeepers.” Given the binary choice of invading or losing face, Plan C seemed the most clever, something similar to the limited “hybrid” campaign in Crimea. Instead, he has launched a massive, multipronged attack on Ukraine with the goal of “demilitarizing” the country.
The best analogy is the Russian attack on Georgia in response to its attack on the separatist province of South Ossetia in 2008. There, Russia surprised the West with its swift, decisive, and effective action against the pro-Western Georgians. Russia succeeded in its aims to degrade Georgia’s military and strengthen the separatists. These actions sent a message to Georgian leaders and its neighbors that a dalliance with the West may come at a high cost if Russia perceives it as a threat.
A war of some kind has been going on for eight years in Ukraine. While the West is now hyper-focused on the Russian invasion and its costs, the people of Donetsk have been shelled nearly every day by Ukrainian forces since 2014. And the so-called Revolution of Dignity was the culmination of a months-long violent riot in Kiev.Read More