Why Putin wants NATO to formally join the war

Finally, Putin’s master plan is indisputable, to unite all Russian-speaking people under one Greater Russia where he rules over all of them. Countries with large ethnic Russian diasporas are to be either absorbed in through union (such as Belarus) or targeted for conquest (e.g. Ukraine). Any dissent is cracked down on. Any protest results in an arrest. There is only one acceptable interpretation of Russian culture, What Putin determines is so. With that, the transformation is complete. Russia is now a Nazi state to be shaped in accordance with Putin’s will.

However, for as long as the war is only with Ukraine, dissent will remain. The common ties between the Ukrainian and Russian people run deep and the lines of communications between the peoples of the two countries remain in place. Putin talks about denazification and the emancipation of oppressed ethnic Russian people in Ukraine, where in fact arriving soldiers are treated as an invading force. Captured prisoners of war ring home and cast a ray of truth into what’s happening and their numbers increase by the day. 

Therefore across the country, Putin’s propaganda steps into gear so the Russian people support his war. Meanwhile, the Russian war machine has adapted to the facts on the ground and changed accordingly where the game plan is now clear. Flatten cities until the inhabitants are deprived of everything where their only option is surrender. Kharkiv and Mariupol for now, when they fall, Kyiv, Odessa, and Dnipro next. In a sign of the militarization now happening, increasing numbers of Russians now favor a war with the EU, with Poland being the top target.

With this in mind, while a settlement remains a possibility, for Putin to accept a treaty that doesn’t give him what he wants would be too humiliating to be allowed. Similarly, for as long as the Russians place demands that Ukraine can’t accept, the chance of war ending through a treaty is unlikely. The western pivot to support Ukraine militarily means they can continue to fight, indefinitely. The decision has already been made across the West, that the cost of sanctioning Russia and supporting Ukraine is worth absorbing.

Hence Putin and Lavrov now in their rhetoric talk not about the war against Ukraine, but the war against the West. They understand that the sanctions placed on the country have to be responded to with a counter-narrative. Hence now they talk about Russia fighting for its right to exist as a sovereign nation against the west, where all they want to do is protect the ethnic Russian diaspora from oppression. The fact that the sanctions are not going to be lifted any time soon means that for them, the only way forward is to escalate.

Therefore the next military actions they take will be designed to be provocative. Putin has stated that military convoys for Ukraine are legitimate targets, where Poland is the number one route for them. Assuming the military support continues, expect a long-range missile strike to hit a convoy on NATO soil, or some equivalent action designed to provoke the west. Either way, it’s a win-win. If NATO doesn’t react, he can point to them and show Ukraine the pointlessness of seeking to be part of an alliance that doesn’t react which helps him negotiate a settlement with them. Or they do respond and he gets the war against the west he craves.

This next phase of the war promises to be the most dangerous of all.

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About the author: James Chaplin
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