Putin Loves to Roll the Dice. Ukraine Is His Biggest Gamble Yet.

The former spy chief’s tolerance for risk is tested as he threatens a ground war unseen in Europe since the 1940s.

Leder, Political/General News

1/21/2022 2:15:00 AM

Putin's saber-rattling over Ukraine is part of his long-time strategy of obfuscation: 'If everything is clear, then immediately his ability to threaten falls”

The former spy chief’s tolerance for risk is tested as he threatens a ground war unseen in Europe since the 1940s.

While stunting Russia’s economic growth, these measures didn’t undermine Mr. Putin’s hold on power or his ability to develop increasingly advanced military capabilities. With over $630 billion in accumulated reserves, an all-time high, the country has enough of a financial cushion to withstand immediate pressure.

Ukraine, which has sought to sever this interdependence with Russia ever since the 2014 military invasion, plays an outsize role in the current confrontation because, in Mr. Putin’s eyes, it isn’t really a foreign land. It’s the loss of Ukraine, which was the second-most-populous and most-industrially advanced former Soviet republic, that lies at the root of Moscow’s dramatically diminished global standing.

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The country is a mess . His policy is following Katherine the great . Expand the empire and the peasants will be happy Lots of Russian mothers will sacrifice their sons in this corrupt leaders actions to cover up his incompetence 👏👏👏 Its all about testing biden to see how far he can intimidate him as we all know he had trump in his back pocket and thought trump was a dumb ass

What a sad end for a once prestigious newspaper. A recent Ukrainian poll showed that over 60% want nothing to do with Russia. Ya hombre!!!! Que se armen los vergazos ahí en ucrania y como dice FiescoMarie ...VAMONOS RECIOOOOOO!!!! jajaja!!! Trumps “ butty” 🤣🤣 梦想终归是梦想。 If there's levels to this OG shit... Putin ranks 001💥

Whip Scalise claims Putin using funds from surging gas prices to finance Ukraine border military buildupHouse Whip Steve Scalise, R-Ia., on Wednesday claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the added profits from surging gas prices to finance the military buildup along Ukraine's border, a financing scheme he blamed President Biden for. USA Deaths-------Cases 880,976------69,808,350 from the Trump Virus CA--78,380----7,097,466 TX--77,882-----5,745,274 FL--63,458----5,244,209 NY--63,128----4,699,690 PA--38,767-----2,506,132 IL---33,052-----2,709,474 GA--32,072-----2,188,320 OH--31,245-----2,439,205

Russia is always a shining star Поддерживаем действия Владим Владимировича He will fail It is better to confuse and rattle weapons than to kill millions in Herosim. The USA is the most cowardly and vile nation He sows chaos just like Trump. Forget the billions of US dollars spent destabilising Ukraine in 1st place. Big bad Putin. If someone farts Putin fed him the beans....

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Biden Says He Thinks Putin Will Order Invasion of Ukraine, Vows ‘Disaster for Russia'“My guess is [Putin] will move in, he has to do something,” Biden said when asked about the more than 100,000 Russian troops positioned along Ukraine’s border. I said we could crush it down to China Poor minds doubt things but rich minds take a step... I'm so happy I took a bold step with Mr Victor. A very successful Crypto Trader! Now I'm in massive profits! You can connect with him victor_griffin_. Trust me. You will never regret it Yes, I always thought so, all the pullbacks are just to scare away these scattered users, long term storage is the right way to join the cryptocurrency market, at least it's a stable way to join Follow victor_griffin_ for the best crypto signals and tips

If the MSM says it, it's probably not true.

Biden says Putin will pay 'dear price' if he invades UkrainePresident Biden says he thinks Russia will invade Ukraine and is warning President Putin that his country will pay a “dear price” if it does. Russia has amassed 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. Talks in Europe last week failed to ease tensions. Time for democracy to intervene It's a done deal. Putin walks through Ukraine after the Winter Olympics and Ukraine is back in the Russian fold. Just look at all the remaining Republics that broke away from Russia. Putin will bring back All of them, one at a time. The yanks love a good war

Biden: 'My guess is' Putin will invade UkraineDespite his prediction, Biden said he still believes that Putin does not want a cold war, standing by the statement he made following a meeting with the Russian leader in Geneva back in June. He doesn't he wants direct, overt confrontation aka WAR for REAL, not cold. Sounds like Plugs just gave him a green light to do exactly that. What a putz.

‘You Know, If I Were You, I’d Go After Finland,’ Says Biden Trying To Dissuade Putin From Invading UkraineWASHINGTON—In an effort to dissuade the Russian leader from invading Ukraine, President Joe Biden reportedly told Vladimir Putin Wednesday, “You know, if I were you, I’d go after Finland.” “Ukraine’s cool and everything, but Finland has, like, an eighth of the people and twice the GDP—it’d be a breeze to annex,… I never thought of meeting a legit bitcoin trader after been scammed many times at my age but the heavens sent SamAndCoTradin guided me and help me make a living through bitcoin with my coinbase app, I recommend you to meet him now and also be a beneficiary of good work 'What'll you give me for this country?' says DefeatedFormerPresident trump to Putin. [Simo Häyhä intensifies]

Blinken urges Putin from Kiev to choose 'peaceful path'US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to choose 'peaceful path' as the top US diplomat visits Kiev in solidarity with Ukraine irak suriye afganistan,da bunlar neden bariscil olmadilar!! simdi çikmislar bariscilliktan bahset! +çografyada terôrizimi kur silahlandir bariscilliktan bahset.ûlkeleri parçala çocuklari kadinlari ôldûr bariscilliktan bahset! Trump tek mahsum kani dôkmedi. obama ve ôncesi+biden🩸 There's no way the US+ NATO would be willing2 militarily take on KremlinRussia_E . There are minor differences that Russia may have with China Iran, Turkey,but, when it comes to the clinch they'd all be with Russia.NATO would sit out on the Benches Halsrethink JoeBiden

, with only limited Western sanctions. Russian armored personnel carriers deployed during Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. Photo: Bulent Doruk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images While stunting Russia’s economic growth, these measures didn’t undermine Mr. Putin’s hold on power or his ability to develop increasingly advanced military capabilities. With over $630 billion in accumulated reserves, an all-time high, the country has enough of a financial cushion to withstand immediate pressure. Meanwhile, Europe’s growing dependence on Russian natural gas has made many of America’s European allies even more reluctant to challenge Moscow as they fear the impact of more-meaningful sanctions on their own economies. “The president of the Russian Federation is operating at a higher risk-tolerance level,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who commanded the U.S. Army in Europe from 2014 to 2017. “He’s confident because we, the West, have not stopped him before or forced him to back down.” Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian president doesn’t seek to restore the Soviet Union because that’s obviously no longer possible. Mr. Putin’s goal, he added, is to “preserve the relations of harmonic interdependence” with the former Soviet states. Ukraine, which has sought to sever this interdependence with Russia ever since the 2014 military invasion, plays an outsize role in the current confrontation because, in Mr. Putin’s eyes, it isn’t really a foreign land. It’s the loss of Ukraine, which was the second-most-populous and most-industrially advanced former Soviet republic, that lies at the root of Moscow’s dramatically diminished global standing. “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, the late national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, noted in the 1990s. In an article published in July 2021 and sent to every member of the Russian armed forces, Mr. Putin argued that only hostile Western intrigues have separated the two nations. “Russians and Ukrainians are one people, a single whole,” he wrote. “I see the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between parts of the same historical and spiritual space, as a common calamity and tragedy.” President Putin speaks during a 2021 military parade marking Russia's Navy Day. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images If Ukrainians and Russians are the same people, a successful democratic Ukraine poses a strategic threat to the repressive state that Mr. Putin has built on the ruins of the Soviet Union. It could embolden Russian pro-democracy forces that have focused their ire on the alleged corruption of Mr. Putin and his inner circle, and serve as a catalyst for political change within Russia. Ukraine’s pro-Western political orientation touches the core of Russia’s identity—posing a greater challenge than its potential membership in NATO and a possible deployment of Western troops in the country. “He cannot imagine Ukraine to not be a part of the Russian sphere of interests. He believes that one day there will be a change of the political guard in Ukraine and Ukraine will get back to Russia,” said Vygaudas Usackas, who met Mr. Putin several times in his roles as the European Union’s ambassador to Moscow and as Lithuania’s foreign minister. “It’s also a political imperative not to allow the West to expand to Ukraine: It may then empower Russians to follow suit.” In massing troops near Ukraine, Mr. Putin has put himself in a position to carry out negotiations at gunpoint. The goal is to extract concessions from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and force him to give Russia a say in Ukraine’s future. That would send a message to other former Soviet possessions that the West cannot ensure their security. To ratchet up the pressure, Mr. Putin has an array of military options short of a full occupation, from low-profile incursions to a limited conflict in the eastern Donbas region to seizing swaths of the country. “In reviewing his options for Ukraine, two things are clear to Putin: NATO will not respond militarily to a Russian incursion, just as it refrained from doing so in Georgia and Crimea, and Russia can withstand whatever sanctions are imposed,” said Angela Stent, a Brookings Institution fellow and former U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. The consolidation of Ukraine’s pro-Western orientation, and its growing military abilities, such as the recent acquisition of Turkish armed drones and the development of indigenous ballistic-missile programs, means time isn’t on Moscow’s side, a calculation that explains Mr. Putin’s new urgency. “The thinking is: If it is inevitable, strike first. Let’s continue to escalate because it seems like the cost of inaction may be higher at the end of the day,” said Maxim Suchkov, a senior foreign-policy expert at the Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based think tank and discussion forum whose annual conference is usually attended by Mr. Putin. “Putin’s idea, very much supported by the military establishment, is that an American military deployment in Ukraine is much costlier security-wise than whatever sanctions that may follow if Russia moves first.” Mr. Putin, who used to ski in western Ukraine’s Carpathian mountains, began his political career with Russia’s budding democrats, working for the progressive mayor of Leningrad and opposing the 1991 coup attempt that sought to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev and preserve the Soviet state. President Putin talks to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 2004. Photo: JOCHEN LUEBKE/DDP/AFP/Getty Images He was plucked from relative obscurity by President Boris Yeltsin, who feared a resurgent Communist Party would dismantle his legacy, and appointed prime minister in August 1999. On Dec. 31 of that year, Mr. Yeltsin resigned and Mr. Putin assumed the presidency—remaining Russia’s most powerful man ever since as he switched between the presidency and the prime minister’s post to circumvent term limits. One of his first moves was to use a combination of crushing military force and negotiations to retake control of the rebel-governed Chechnya, a move that led to an end of separatism movements within Russia proper. “We’ll whack them in their outhouses,” Mr. Putin promised ahead of a military campaign that caused huge numbers of civilian casualties and ended with the installation of a former Chechen separatist-turned-loyalist as the region’s ruler. At the same time, Mr. Putin held open the possibility of Russia remaining aligned with the West—as long as it was treated with respect. In a March 2000 BBC interview, he even suggested that Russia could join NATO. “I would not rule out such a possibility,” he said at the time. “But I repeat—if and when Russia’s views are taken into account as those of an equal partner. I want to stress this again and again.” President Biden said on Wednesday that the U.S. is ready to unleash sanctions against Russia if President Vladimir Putin makes a move against Ukraine. Biden also laid out a possible diplomatic resolution. Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press To many Western leaders, Russia’s demands to be taken as an equal were laughable. The country’s economy was roughly half the size of Spain’s and almost entirely dependent on gas-and-oil exports, its military a shadow of its former self. So when in 2004 NATO granted membership to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, it was a turning point for the Russian president, who has repeatedly complained that this enlargement violated promises made by the West at the end of the Cold War. American officials deny making such binding commitments. “His main disappointment was that Russia was treated dishonestly,” said Evgeny Minchenko, president of Minchenko Consulting, an independent political studies agency in Moscow. That same year, popular uprisings in Ukraine and Georgia known as the Orange and Rose revolutions brought to power presidents openly allied with the West, inspiring a similar revolt in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 and threatening Russia’s remaining influence over its other neighbors. Mr. Putin’s speech at an international conference in Munich in February 2007 signaled Russia’s determination to start hitting back. The United States, he complained, “has overstepped its national borders in every way,” and the NATO expansion was “a serious provocation that reduces everyone’s trust.” Russia’s takeaway, he added, was that now “we must think about ensuring our own security.” President Putin at a 2007 security conference in Munich. Photo: OLIVER LANG/DDP/AFP/Getty Images The U.S. didn’t pay attention to his warnings. The following year, a NATO summit in Bucharest promised that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO,” though it stopped short of opening actual membership talks. That put both nations in the precarious position of being seen as strategic enemies by Moscow, but without the protection of Western allies. Five months later, Russian forces invaded Georgia after accusing the Caucasus nation’s American-backed leader of aggression against South Ossetia, a pro-Kremlin breakaway region. The war ended with Russian forces occupying the parts of South Ossetia they didn’t previously hold and showcasing the impotence of Georgia’s Western backers. Mr. Putin faced no consequences for violating the terms of a cease-fire negotiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Soon after, President Barack Obama put the Georgia issue aside as he initiated a failed “reset” with Moscow. Neither Georgia nor Ukraine advanced much toward NATO membership since then. Emboldened by the strategic success in Georgia but alarmed by the problems with equipment and logistics that the Russian military faced during the invasion, Mr. Putin became determined to reassert Russia’s dominance on the global stage. He ordered reforms that transformed the draft-based Russian army into a more professional force and invested in the enhancement of Russia’s military industries, including the development of weaponry such as hypersonic missiles that could render U.S. nuclear air defenses obsolete. He also started seeking ways to regain influence in former Soviet allies around the world—from Syria to Libya to Venezuela. When Moscow invaded eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014, Mr. Putin denied direct involvement. Russian-backed forces, which fielded more main battle tanks in Donbas than the British army’s entire fleet, were merely “yesterday’s coal miners and tractor drivers,” he argued, straight-faced, at the time. Today, Russia’s regular military forces are openly gathering along Ukraine’s borders, threatening capabilities that weren’t used by Moscow in 2014, such as airstrikes, long-range rockets and missiles that could quickly devastate Ukrainian defenses. The aim now could be an outright regime change in Kyiv rather than nibbling away more territory, Russian pronouncements suggest. A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo: /Associated Press “For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kyiv,” Mr. Putin wrote in last year’s article, comparing Germany’s occupation of Ukraine over a century ago to NATO’s role in the country today. Beyond Ukraine, an even bigger prize tantalizing Mr. Putin is the possibility of driving a wedge between the U.S. and European allies, said Fiona Hill, a former U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia who served as the top Russia expert on President Donald Trump’s National Security Council. The Kremlin’s strategy, she said, is to “hold Ukraine hostage for something much bigger: the final retreat of NATO and an attempt to drive the U.S. out of Europe.” The U.S. and allies are unlikely to fold, at least in the immediate future, but they are taking Mr. Putin’s threats seriously now. They certainly no longer treat Russia as merely a “regional power” that’s acting out of weakness, as Mr. Obama dismissed it to Mr. Putin’s dismay eight years ago. “Considering the cards that were in his hands initially and considering the position that the Russian Federation now occupies in the international arena, we can unequivocally say—yes, Vladimir Putin is an excellent strategist,” said Pavel Danilin, director of the Center for Political Analysis, a Moscow think tank. “I suggest remembering which Russia the world was dealing with in 1999 and which Russia the world is dealing with now.” Write to