Monday, world markets and others were solicitous over the Russian incursion into the Ukraine. Tuesday, the markets rebounded at an astounding rate. Western politicians were bruising their hands patting each other on the back and the "international community" breathed a collective sigh of relief. All this optimism is because of one word missed by these supposedly smart and worldly people in an otherwise conciliatory statement by Vladimir Putin. He said that there is "no need yet" to use Russian military force in Ukraine.
If you have not guessed by now, the all important word Putin used was "yet." Putin has left the door open for further military incursion into Ukraine, and in the mean time has tested the "international community" and President Obama's resolve to oppose him. Both have failed this test miserably.Without firing a shot, Vladimir has been able to learn much about the weakness of his enemy.
He knows for instance that the current president of the United States is so unlikely to use military force as to eliminate it as an option to prevent his rebuilding of the Soviet empire. He also knows that any sanctions imposed upon his country by Western powers will be made non-effective by his control of much of Europe's oil supply and a good chunk of American investments in his country. Mr. Putin has also learned that the hubris of his enemy is his best weapon against them. Barack Obama, John Kerry, et. al., will gleefully cede large chunks of territory to Russia if their rather large egos are made to believe that they have schooled the Russian president using their empty platitudes and "stern" warnings.
The Putin plan was simple; begin military exercises by the Ukraine border, invade the Russian-friendly Crimea region of the Ukraine, recall the Russian troops participating in the exercises thereby placating the "international community" and allowing him to keep Crimea. Vladimir Putin has telegraphed his next move, visible to anyone who is not wallowing in their own arrogance and self-aggrandizement like our president. Putin will negotiate to have Russian troops deeper inside the Ukraine, ostensibly to protect ethnic Russians trapped by what he has already called a coup that ousted his puppet, Viktor Yanukovych.
In this way he can continue to stroke the rather obese egos of the U.S. president and others, while he incrementally captures more of the Ukraine. He may, with any luck, be able to capture most of Eastern Europe in this way, especially if another Democrat is elected to the United States presidency in 2016. In the contest that is international politics, Vladimir Putin is Garry Kasparov and Barack Obama is a neophyte who has only just recently seen the board and pieces for the first time.