Brinksmanship

After a first day of military operations, whereby Russian forces scattered its air assault throughout the country and neutralized Ukraine’s air defense systems in conjunction with a charge and concentration of forces towards the capital Kiev, things have slowed down a little bit on the battlefield, for a number of reasons. For one, Putin is perhaps gauging global public opinion, and public opinion will most likely figure into his calculations regarding future moves both diplomatically and militarily. Discussions, words, and votes through forums such as the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly will also have to manifest alongside considerations for the battlefield. As mentioned before, war has two tracks, namely, the battlefield and the negotiating table. Thus, these diplomatic factors have to play out and taken into account alongside the action on the battlefield.

Second, there is a short-term absorption of economic sanctions that has to be taken into account on the part of Russia. There is still room and time for the range and breadth of Western economic measures to play out and manifest, and as they play out and manifest, Russia will perhaps consider the full weight of its reactions to these Western economic measures once the full range and breadth of these Western economic measures have played out and have manifested. Although Russia might feel the effects of the economic factor first, it does not mean that the West has the last word on these economic issues or immunity from the economic factor.

And third, there is the issue of arms and weaponry to Ukrainian forces from the West, which was the direct cause and impetus for this highly consequential conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Short-sightedness and myopia up until this point precluded the ability to assess the full range of the consequences of this conflict. Putin is perhaps waiting to see how far the West will go in their arming and weaponization of Ukraine before resolute decisions are made regarding battlefield initiatives. Although there is praise from all over the place for Ukraine’s resistance on the battlefield, we overlook the fact that the full force of Russia’s capabilities has yet to been brought to bear on this conflict.

In turn, we are seeing the complex and costly nature of war in a postmodern epoch, which was something I emphasized time and time again, both in my book and in the lead-up to this conflict. War was most relevant to a bygone modern period. Now, we are in a postmodern period that is incompatible with war. Hyping up the prospect of war through “intelligence” leaks and the media was perhaps another factor in the messiness of the situation right now, and as mentioned before, this conflict has now proven to have global implications.

But if one were to assess whether it is the West who loses out the most as events play out in the coming days and months or if Russia loses out more down the road, the chances are that the West loses out more than Russia both economically and politically, although all sides lose out to a large extent. But on balance, one could argue that the West loses out the most, and some of the reasons for this argument have been mentioned in previous blog posts. But the most important factor of all is the psychological factor of the balance of power and war, and it is yet to be determined whether Putin or NATO will prove most resilient in terms of the main factor in politics and war, namely, the psychological factor. China is another factor which has yet to fully transpose its weight on the issue, and China will play a large role in the balance of power factor. Thus, it is too early to jump to conclusions, and the situation is quite fluid. Lots of things are yet to be determined.

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