WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE CALCULATIONS ON ALL SIDES REGARDING UKRAINE?
Clearly a huge amount is at stake for all sides. This is growing ever more evident as the rhetoric, discussions, supposed revelations and heated language show. Most of it, it must be said, is emanating from the West and not from Russia. Russia has been stating its wishes and enumerating its red lines with what appears to be a sober dedication to remaining largely unemotional about each issue covered.
Then why do we see such an uproar in the West? What has Russia done that is so controversial requiring the elite version of a hissy fit combined with epileptic arm waving and jilted lover's hand wringing? What is all this drama about exactly?
The Russian side of things is fairly easy to understand. NATO, the force that was the West's spearhead against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact which has been steadily encroaching upon Russia's borders is a real headache. NATO says Russia has nothing to fear from it... but how can Russia believe this? What target is NATO aiming at in that case, if it is not Russia? As Putin has said, why should Russia have such an arrogant and heavily-armed entity on its doorstep constantly threatening its communal home?
NATO is very attractive to the elites of ex-Warsaw Pact nations as membership brings with it a certain heightened status, reflected kudos, access to finances, introduction to an elite coterie of goodies, international travel and a seat at the great high table.
Whether NATO ought to have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War is a moot point however. It appears that it was simply too big, too useful and had myriad career ladders within it that it was unthinkable to simply let it collapse in skeletal form across Europe.
And of course NATO represents North America's primary presence across Europe. An empire of influence that it became unthinkable to eliminate even in the face of 'The New World Order' that Dubya's dad hailed after the Soviet Union collapsed. The Warsaw Pact nations were just too tempting a prize to resist. And so it has been ever since with NATO encroaching closer and closer to a Russia totally transformed by Putin since Soviet times.
So, there's a lot at stake for the western powers and their pet rottweiler in the shape of NATO. These western powers are at imminent risk of having their power eclipsed and their influence weakened. China and Russia working in close cooperation has sent these powers into a frenzy of activity designed to damage the path forward for both. So much status, so many national interests, so much patrician power to manipulate, punish and eliminate opposing forces would be lost if China and Russia were left alone to prosper.
The western powers conceive themselves and their systems as the very peak of civilization, the supreme guardians of the destiny of humankind, the exceptional few who are the rightful judges and arbiters of right and wrong, able and willing to punish all wrongdoers and shake the world to its senses when need be.
Russia is seen as the incalcitrant orphan who was adopted by kind folk and who is now acting as ungrateful whelp dismissing all their good advice and voicing a determined stance to choose which way to turn and which path to take quite separate from their well-meant advice. Now these doting foster parents have descended down through the emotional spectrum to a point of wanting to give this orphan a good beating.
What then might this purported delinquent be up to? What would Russia gain by being the bad boy in this scenario over Ukraine? Certainly not much by way of valuable assets. Ukraine's shop window is all but bare save for a few items hardly anyone would want. What's in it for this supposed Russian rascal and ne'er-do-well? Not much it seems. There's that poisoned chalice in the corner called Ukraine. Not very tempting now, is it?
Ukraine has been threatening our kid's pals for years now and like many a bully shows no sign of giving up its malign endeavors. All blandishments to settle things in an equitable manner for all sides has been ignored. Instead of kissing and making up Ukraine has called on others in its gang to help it punish Russia's pals to an ever greater extent. They of course resist any temptation to ask Ukraine to stop its targeted violence out of group peer pressure and the possibility of getting cancelled by Big Brother America, leader of the gang.
As for Russia it has been pretty patient all this while hoping for some sign that there might be even the slightest possibility of a peaceful and harmonious resolution to this sorry saga. But one thing or another may well have totally disabused it of the idea that anything like a transformation of the Ukrainian character is possible. May it have become time then for the bully to receive a powerful punch to its misbegotten nose from Russia? Just possibly.
Naturally the other members of Ukraine's gang are not going to stand by and let this happen.
It's a complex mix of competing ambitions then, many elements, with most cooks involved decidedly spoiling the broth. Leaving yet another analogy to one side we can see the western powers carefully sheltering their prodigy and guarding its sullied reputation from view while shaking a fist at Russia and demanding it keep its distance.
Meanwhile the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics stand ready for blows that may rain down on them at any moment. For eight long years they have been kept fenced in and bombarded. Yet another good reason for Russia to act in their defense... but not only this, but also in their potential liberation from a murderous harassment that has gone on far too long now.
The West is loath to give up its trophy as it intends on gaining many more and to lose this one after its Afghanistan one is too much for their exceptional hearts to bear. For them its finders keepers and losers weepers and they are determined that Ukraine will stay there's. After all China is set on taking the trophies in Africa that both the United Kingdom and United States have long considered theirs for the taking. Doubling down and not in any way doubting themselves or their ambitions for full control everywhere are the orders of the day for "superior" folk.
China and Russia stand almost stock still while the western giant roars and stamps its great feet over Ukraine (to conjure up yet another analogy). He has largely been successful in teaching his Lilliputian population a half truth bordering on complete fabrication concerning the origins of the fight (to the death?) he is now in. His minions now largely jump up and down with him. Much heat is observed but little light is generated. Meanwhile an even greater source of both heat and light looms.
Is anyone calculating in level-headed terms in this almost primary school playground scuffle? Always inscrutable, Putin is certainly the prime candidate for this honor. Biden? Biden seems lost in a hazy dream, sleepwalking toward a disaster of one kind or another. While European allies mumble among themselves about what this global tussle of superpowers means for them. It's certainly not going to be a "gas", that's for sure...