Putin’s ambitions, Hitler and the NATO summit

It seems that President Putin has made a similar mistake as Hitler did in the years prior to and at the beginning of the World War II. Hitler believed that western countries are too used to living in comfort and too pacifistic after what happened during World War I, or even too lazy to fight wars. He thought that his eagerness and cruelty, putting nations in front of facts rather than negotiations or diplomacy, will create a situation that will facilitate his plans. Diplomacy used before the conflict an element of war strategy and was meant to give Hitler an idea of European and world leader’s willingness to fight him. His idea was that he would frighten whole world so much that no one would have enough courage to stand against him. In fact at the beginning he was quite right. But at some point he just couldn’t win because too many strong opponents were against him, and they were determined to fight to the end.
Now Putin has made pretty much the same efforts of assessing how Europe and the World view his activity in Ukraine. His clash with Georgia gave him impression that Europe and US are not ready to confront him. The Crimean Anschluss was the next move which gave him the confidence that he is the strong one and master of the situation. Sanctions were the minimum of what the world could do, and for Putin it had to look like just a smokescreen to do nothing. The best proof for it was that sanctions were announced just for a short time, and always just to the moment when Russia deescalates its activities in Ukraine. For those who knows the conflict theories it is obvious that it is not a good approach to negotiations if we at the beginning stat those measurements are just temporary. The Russians know they are doing wrong, and a weak response just strengthens the impression that the west is trying to say sorry for applying the sanctions against the Russian establishment.
I believe Putin considered letting the Donbas area go and waiting for another good moment to act. Putin’s plan seems to be easy to predict. He wants to keep Ukraine’s eastern provinces autonomous from the rest of the state. Then for a few years he can use propaganda like in the Crimea, place regular units there, invited by the autonomous government of those territories and finally hold a fake referendum like in Crimea, or otherwise take the region. The plan could work if Ukraine stays poor and divided.
But the Ukrainians are more and more against Putin because of those pro-Russian separatists which often are just ruthless mercenaries conducting war on their territory. After the Russian aggression, it seems that Ukraine is much closer to joining the EU, and most of the oligarchs escaped or are not siding with Russia now. It appears to be a good path for Ukraine to develop and improve quickly. Then there would be none who would like to join Russia and Putin would not have any occasion to play his strongest card – propaganda. The last point which is very important for Putin for his decision to invade eastern Ukraine was preparation of new elections by President Poroshenko who wanted to get rid of the Kremlin supporters and obvious Russian spies.
The false image of a divided and lazy Europe, a weak and undecided Obama and a mobilizing Ukraine, pushed Putin to the decision that there can be no better time for invading east Ukraine. He decided to invade with an unknown the number of soldiers, but reliable sources claim it is from 7 to 15 thousands of well trained experienced and well equipped soldiers. From the start they were attacking newly formed, totally inexperienced Ukrainian units surrounding Donieck. The results were obvious. The Ukrainian government was fully right giving the order of full retreat. Losing Ukrainian soldiers – many very young boys (perhaps some of my former students), was pointless. At this moment Putin claimed that he could seize Kiev in few days, Warsaw in a week and I suppose he believes that Berlin and Brussels would fall in month. What Putin did and is still is doing in Ukraine has to be enough to be a wake up call for the West. Everything done until now was based on high ambitions of one leader surrounding himself with ideologists most probably having deep antisocial personality disorder. Leader embraced with totally wrong impressions of Russian might and western weakness or inability to organize, who makes decision individually and independently ignoring opinions of people thinking otherwise. All this makes Putin similar to Hitler, although it is not enough to compare those two figures.
The ongoing NATO summit in Wales shows that Putin went too far, just like Hitler. Fortunately, post-World War II – „too far”, doesn’t mean that half of Europe has to be in flames and filled with death camps for „subhumans”.The decision of building quick reactions forces with infrastructure organized in Poland and some initial battle units, four thousand soldiers strong, ready to react in the NATO member countries, seems like a first sign of a really strong and reasonable response to Putin’s activity. We have to add, those units will not operate separately but with the national armies of attacked states. There is much more the west can do to contain Putin, and this progressive direction of NATO is inevitable now, when none have any illusions about him and his mafia state’s ambitions.

I want to thank to Nick Siekierski @ResearchTeacher for correcting of this text.


Autor: Milczanowski Maciej

Maciej Milczanowski Maciej is a former professional soldier, participant of two foreign missions: UN in Golan Heights commander of platoon and position (1997-1998) and NATO Iraq Battle Capitan in Tactical Operation Center (2004-2005). Holds an MA in National Defense Academy in Warsaw and Ph. D. in Jagiellonian University both on politics in ancient history and he now works in University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszow, Poland. Visiting Fellow in Hoover Institution, Stanford University. CEO of Institilute for Research of the National Security and leader of the Zimbardo Center for Conflict Resolution (Z-CenterC&R)

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