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Putin and Biden meet around the globe

The media has been in a near state of panic over what’s happening on the Ukrainian border. For those that are living in a cave, Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed the Russian army and surrounded that country in what would appear to be an imminent attack – with an apparent goal of taking it over and making it part of Russia. Just as they did with Crimea.

I haven’t put much stock into that happening. But that has not been the approach of the President and his staff who all say that US intelligence has determined that a Russian invasion of the Ukraine is imminent!

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It seems like with each passing day the President’s men (and women) keep talking about that with increased urgency – albeit with the caveat that diplomacy is still an option.  It is the lead story on almost every major newscast… You would think that we are all on the brink of World War III.

Now I am certainly not a prophet. I don’t know how this will all end. But if I were a betting man, I would bet on what I believe to have actually been the case all along. That this is all just one big bluff by Putin to get what he wants out of the US. Which is to prevent the Ukraine from becoming a member of NATO – which was created during the cold war as a unified deterrent against Russian aggression towards any member nation. Putin has made it seem like if the US does not give in to his demand. He will take over the Ukraine.

You know who doesn’t believe that? Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He has consistently been saying that the attack is unlikely and that the US isn’t helping with all the war-mongering talk – even though he is prepared for the worst. (As any country would be that is surrounded by an army that looks like it is about to attack them.) Life goes on there as normal. People are out and about. Traffic is flowing, and stores and businesses are open.  There is no panic – even with Russian troops surrounding them.

Why am I not worried? Because there is no way that Putin could attack a sovereign nation and annex it without being compared to Hitler.  Which many pundits have already done. I doubt that anyone would want to go down in history being compared to Hitler.

The sanctions they would suffer would be crippling in the extreme and Putin knows it. He would gain nothing and lose a lot. Even if European officials hadn’t coordinated and formalized their threatened sanctions with the US, there is no way that Putin would have not realized how the entire world would react were he to actually do this.

This is pretty basic stuff. We are all beyond a time where a nuclear power can attack another country with impunity and risk a nuclear conflagration with an even more powerful nuclear nation that might come to the aid of that country and respond it kind. Which could escalate into nuclear oblivion. Even at the height of the cold war, both the US and the FSU understood and honored the concept of MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction. Putin may be evil. But he is not a deranged fool.

This is why I believe that this is all one big bluff. And that Russian denials about invading Ukraine were real.

That it belied their actions is exactly what Putin wanted the US and its allies to believe. And it appears the President and his administration bought it. What about the intelligence sources that informed the President about an imminent attack? This would not be the first time US intelligence got it wrong. Nor would it be the first time that Russian intelligence was able to convince US intelligence of a lie.

It now appears that Putin is pulling back some of his troops and talking more about diplomatic solutions to the crisis. (Big ‘surprise’!)

This is not to say that the President was wrong to coordinate a unified response with our European allies. And to caution Americans there to leave Ukraine. He clearly had an obligation to do all that when the prospect of war exists at any reasonable level. But at the same he oversold it to the media and the American public with his increasing cries about the ‘sky falling’ at any moment.  His fear peddling played right into Putin’s hands.  Putin wanted the world to think he was going to do it. And sold that notion pretty well. But as I said – in my view there is no way he was ever going to go through with it. I don’t believe that was ever part of his plan.

And as I also said at the outset, I cannot predict the future. I may be totally wrong about this. And if I am, God help us all.

{Reposted from the author’s blog}

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.