Vladimir Putin has come a long way since being a member of the KGB. According to Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, he was a shy man who was intimidated by a US president, George W. Bush, 20 plus years ago.
Today Vlad’s is now a full-fledged megalomaniac and certainly not shy any longer. With higher oil prices, Russia is in the money. And so, Vlad has decided to take the world to the doorstep of a great war to wrest concessions from the West that are seemingly irrelevant. Russia is the only country that acts progressively more belligerent and aggressive when fossil fuels go up in price. Vlad probably hasn’t gotten the memo that fossil fuels are going to decline in value as the world gets deeper into climate change. Or maybe he has and wants one more bite of the apple.
This may be Russia’s last chance to bring back the good old days, not quite by making Putin a real czar, but by reassembling all the former SSR’s of Russia that can supposedly act as a buffer between Western Europe and Russia. Of course, This is an exaggeration. If the US got into a shooting match with Russia, the guy with the most ICBMs and nuclear weapons, not tanks and soldiers, would have the edge. If nukes were put into play, they could easily destroy the world as we know it today. Escalation from a small confrontation to a large worldwide maelstrom is what the world needs to worry about.
The domination game that Russia and China are playing makes little sense. It would be wiser and more profitable to dominate smaller nations with valuable resources as allies not as satellites. Occupying foreign places, even if they are next door to the aggressor, is an expensive undertaking. In many situations you can gain political influence and abscond natural resources without using your soldiers to occupy.
Vlad is doing a lousy negotiating his with the West. Nobody likes a bully, especially one that is always looking for a fight and threatening others with advanced weapon systems. The US has suffered in this regard continuously in the 20th and 21st centuries. Being blackballed is not good politics or economics for Vlad and his oligarch buddies. I think he bit off more than he can chew in this situation.
If Russia invades Ukraine, the world will line up behind the US, something that Russia does not want to happen. The West, led by the US, is going to shut down a big chunk of Russia‘s oil business and ability to use the international banking system. And what for? To gain a foothold in Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus?
I am still convinced that Russia will not invade. It just makes no sense from any perspective.