There is little doubt that U.S. and European media have been hyping a potential Russian invasion of Eastern Europe since Vladimir Putin pulled off his stealth takeover of Crimea over a year ago. As Bryan MacDonald of RT points out, while a Russian invasion of the Baltics or even Poland is not entirely impossible, it is highly unlikely as Putin is no fool.
Russia and Ukraine
Although MacDonald’s thesis is essentially correct in the opinion of this writer, his analysis reflects his anti-American biases as it is extremely one-sided and falls woefully short of accurately describing the complex geo-political situation in Eastern Europe.
MacDonald begins by asking a loaded rhetorical question to try and force the reader into a false dichotomy. He says:
“Here’s a starter for ten question: Russia’s reunification with Crimea last year was prompted by which of the following…
a.) a very particular set of historical circumstances, allied to the will of the overwhelming majority of the local population.
b.) Vladimir Putin’s desire to launch a blitzkrieg military campaign, complete with goose-stepping Russian soldiers marching across Europe?
If you are not a raving-mad neocon or someone who has difficulties with reality, the correct answer is a. Crimea was Russian territory for centuries and had been transferred to Ukraine as part of an administrative re-alignment at a time when both states were part of the Soviet Union. The peninsula is as Russian as Cornwall is British or Texas is American.”
While any student of history knows that many Crimeans are of Russian ancestry given Crimea was once a part of Russia and only became a part of Ukraine in the mid-20th century, that does not in any way validate or excuse a military invasion of an independent, internationally recognized country. Nor do the trumped-up claims by the Kremlin that tens of thousands of ethnic Russians were being disenfranchised or even in physical danger from Ukrainians.
Of note, MacDonald also artfully neglects to mention the ongoing Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine beyond Crimea.
The vast majority of global political analysts agree that the real reason for the invasion of Ukraine was that Putin needed a patriotic war to boost his political and personal prestige, which MacDonald conveniently ignores in his anti-American diatribe.
As far as MacDonald’s claim that Crimea is as “Russian” as Cornwall is British, that is hogwash. That kind of misleading analogy trying to stretch intentional exaggeration for rhetorical purposes is very close to a flat out lie.
Offers logical analysis of Baltic States after political diatribe
After spending several hundred words justifiably lambasting “American warmongering”, but then veering off into biased ridiculousness by claiming that Russia’s invasions of Ukraine and Georgia are nothing in comparison, MacDonald actually lays out some strong arguments as to why Russia won’t invade the Baltic states or elsewhere in Europe.
First, MacDonald points out that there is really very little of significant or strategic or financial value that could tempt Putin into an invasion of the Baltics: “Unlike Crimea, which was of hugely significant strategic importance (hosting Russia’s largest Black Sea base for instance), there is nothing especially interesting about any of the Baltic countries. All remain poor, to varying degrees, with Estonia the most prosperous. Lithuania has lost 32 percent of its population since 1989 and Latvia, in particular, remains riddled with corruption.”
He then moves on to point out the risk-reward just doesn’t add up given the consequences of such a decision, and while Putin and his cronies might be idealogues, history says they are eminently practical idealogues, which makes an invasion of the Baltics quite unlikely.
He notes; “Let’s just imagine for a moment that Russia did invade one or all of the Baltic States. What would it do with this newly acquired territory? The Kremlin would be faced with an enraged local population and a very angry wider world. That is assuming that this imagined Russian assault didn’t trigger a full-scale nuclear conflict with NATO. In which case, as the mushroom cloud envelops your nearest city, you can assume that Putin’s ‘dastardly plan’ has failed.
Even if Brussels and Washington, and this is very unlikely, rolled over and accepted Russian dominion over the Baltic countries, what then? With the greatest respect to the locals, there is little more of economic worth than fields and forests. There is no oil, no gas and no hidden deposits of rare-earth minerals.”