Thursday, 17 April 2014

How to Stop Putin Dead in his Tracks

After easily taking over Crimea, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is ready to chalk up another conquest in eastern Ukraine.  This time, the Ukrainian government is putting up some resistance, but it doesn't seem to be enough.  Putin's grip on the eastern part of the country seems to be growing stronger by the day.  And for all Putin's talk that he is fighting fascists in Ukraine, it's his supporters that seem to be the harbingers of fascism.  Recently, a leaflet was distributed in the city of Donetsk calling on all members of the Jewish community there to register their religion and property with the government of the self-proclaimed "people's republic" of Donetsk, or face deportation and loss of citizenship.  Click here for full details.

History tells us that a similar policy was carried out against Jews and other minorities in Germany before World War II.  It was only the first step before the Nazi death machine began working in full swing.  After all, a holocaust does not begin with mass extermination - it ends with it.  In other words, threatening Jews and other minorities with deportation and loss of citizenship could just be the beginning of worse things yet to come, so it's important that those who have the power to stop Putin in his tracks do so immediately without wasting any more time.

U.S. President Barack Obama may be a modern-day Neville Chamberlain, but he was right about one thing.  The Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of old and does not lead a large bloc of countries - yet.  Indeed, Russia's military strength is not equal to what the Soviet Union once had and she is not ready to challenge the military might of NATO, which is why Putin will limit his conquests to non-NATO members, at least in the near future.  Hence, NATO members' commitment to step up air and sea patrols in the Black Sea and beef up military deployments in NATO and EU members bordering Ukraine and Russia will do nothing to stop Putin as he will not pursue a head-on confrontation with the West anyways.

The only way to contain the Russian dictator is for NATO troops to deploy in Ukraine itself and any other country whose territory Putin has eyes on, such as Georgia or Moldova.  Better yet, the West should fast-track countries threatened by Putin on the road towards full NATO and EU membership.  In other words, there should be NATO boots on the ground wherever the Russian despot is likely to attempt additional land-grabs.  The message to Putin will be loud and clear: If he wants to conquer more territory, he will have to go through NATO troops to get it.

But would doing this provoke a war with Russia?  Not likely.  Putin may be a tyrant and a murderer, but he is not insane and he is still capable of rational thinking.  He knows that a war with the West now would be unwinnable and would most definitely lead to his downfall.  And if there's at least one thing all dictators care about, it's staying in power, which is why Putin would be incredibly foolish to risk a military confrontation with NATO and its allies, for now.

As I said in a previous blog post, Battlefield Ukraine: Stop Putin Now!, force is the only thing that can put an end to a dictator's aggression.  Hence, threatening Putin with force by placing NATO troops and hardware in countries and territories where he may try to make new conquests will ensure that he will not pursue those conquests.  The bad news, however, is that this will only work for awhile.  As long as Putin remains in control of Russia, he will be able to strengthen his military forces and solidify alliances with other friendly dictatorships, such as China and Iran, so that eventually he will be ready for a military confrontation with the West.  In essence, containing Putin is only a temporary solution.  The only permanent solution is to remove him from power.  But how can this be done without provoking a war?  I sincerely hope the leaders of the world's democracies will put their heads together and try to come up with an answer to this question.  Otherwise, war could be inevitable. 

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