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Putin has overplayed his hand over Crimea

Is Ukraine the first step in rebuilding the Soviet Union?
Is Ukraine the first step in rebuilding the Soviet Union?
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent plans to fortify Russia’s defenses and sphere of influence against Western threats moving forward, he is operating under two major assumptions that are likely faulted. First, he perceives Russia to have greater leverage/power over the West. Certainly, many economies of the world, especially those of European countries, have become dependent on Russia to varying degrees while Russia has grown wealthier thanks to soaring oil prices and its massive reserves, so the Russian government is feeling stronger. Although Putin is likely fully aware that US military power, especially when coupled with the might of our allies, is far superior to Russian military power, even if his allies are willing to engage the West militarily, he is trying to utilize the strategic strength of a rogue nation.

When countries like Iran or North Korea decide they do not want to follow the conventions of the International Community, our need to keep peace and stability alive is used against us. For a country the size of Russia, the damage is particularly problematic. Unfortunately, for Putin, he has not properly accessed how the size of Russia works against his plans. Russia is so big that the United State and the West cannot ignore Putin’s disruptive behavior, especially when Russian leaders are essentially threatening to expand their intrusive behavior. This means the world must eventually unite against Putin to rebalance international interests and preserve the stability of the International Community.

Second, fear of Russia has long driven support for America. Putin apparently has the silver tongues of fools in his ear who promote Russia adapting its economy to have zero dependency on America. The hardy Peoples of Russia have a very long history of survival, but that history is not necessarily built on adaption; it is one built on enduring hardship. Even if it is technically possible for Russia to have zero dependency on the US, the Russian People enjoy the many fruits of our modern economy and there is no reason for the Russian People to give up those benefits. The Russian People are not backwards nor so isolated that they fail to see Putin is the one resurrecting old Cold War conflicts. After all, the most pressing threat of our era is global terrorism, which is a fact Putin has often used to crush civil liberties and political opponents. As such, the Russian People will ultimately have a choice between their modern way of life and Putin.

Furthermore, America is the country that adapts. Given a threat, the American People can change their way of thinking and their way of life on a dime. If Russia seeks to economically hurt the United States and the rest of the West through its newfound economic resurgence and alliances, it is America that will quickly free its self of things like foreign imports by dismantling free trade agreements and other policies. Truth be told, Russia’s actions to date will probably help reinforce confidence in the American economy as the world’s safe haven. In turn, this could help push industries back to America where they know their companies, intellectual property, and financial resources will not be subject to random seizures by governments looking to hurt the West. At any rate, Putin has likely already done more long-term damage to the Russian economy by promoting the West over Ukraine.