The underlying assumption by most people is that the war between Russia and Ukraine began last February when Russian President Vladimir Putin sent the Russian army across the Ukrainian border. While this was certainly a defining moment in what has been an ongoing struggle between the two countries – it was not the first parley between the two.
There has been an ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia since 2014. This conflict was started by Ukraine against the Russian speaking population in Eastern Ukraine and was backed by the US. Russia’s current invasion is merely a level up of what has been going on since 2014.
In the early days of Russia’s invasion, the Biden administration piled on sanctions and then eventually added military support to aid Ukraine’s war efforts. Most people bought into the idea that Ukraine was the good guy and Russia the bad guy. However, Ukraine has been a corrupt regime for as long as anyone can remember.
America went into the Ukraine war in an attempt to upend the Putin regime. Companies seeking new deposits of natural resources have been salivating over the riches within Russia and have backed the administration’s narrative that Putin is a dictator and thug. This narrative has been circulated and accepted by most in the West. However, Putin is very popular in Russia – perhaps more popular than Biden himself.
A year into the war and the USA and its partners in NATO appear to be even more committed than ever to defeating Russia. However, there are just a few problems with pushing this war longer. The first is it can go nuclear. Putin and his colleagues have already threatened nuclear are if they are pushed into a corner. The second and one that has long term implications is that the war is bringing two global powers together for the first time – Russia and China.
This brewing alliance is something the USA and NATO was able to bypass during the Cold War. However, it is very real and very dangerous now. America can take on Russia or China by themselves and maybe win, but two together is virtually impossible.
The West appears to have made the same fatal mistake the Germans did in WW2. It was assumed then that the Soviets would collapse fast under a Blitzkrieg. However, as the war in Eastern Europe dragged on and German supply lines withered coupled with Germany’s loss at the battle of Stalingrad, the Soviets were able to turn the tide and ultimately reverse all of the German gains and march to Berlin.
NATO has gambled on what they thought would be a quick defeat of Russia. Yet, the opposite is happening. Russia is digging in and prepared to turn the tide this spring. America and its NATO allies will end up not only empty handed but in a world not controlled by them. The new Chinese- Russian alliance will dictate terms and once again reset geopolitical fault lines.
It is within this context that Israel now finds itself. Prime Minister Netanyahu realizes that Israel has very little maneuverability. On one hand Jerusalem must play ball with America and on the other it needs to find a way to offset Iranian expansion into Syria and for that it need Russia. Netanyahu is a master at balancing various geopolitical currents, but even this may be too much for him.