It is very clear Vladimir Putin had never intended to negotiate. The security guarantees he referred to were just a smokescreen. In fact, Putin dreams – and is trying to create – Great Russia, a construct that should include countries like Romania, today members of NATO and the EU, which lived under the Soviet yoke until 1989. In all the articles he published and in every speech he delivered of late, Vladimir Putin doesn’t say he wants to restore the Soviet Union. No, he wants to restore historical Russia. Putin doesn’t want to be Stalin. Putin wants to be Putin. For all his crimes, for all the terror he instils in the Russian common folk, for all his madness, which makes even the head of intelligence tremble. Putin wants to change the European Order, and he probably will, just not the way he imagined. The war in Ukraine, which has prompted a reaction in block in the West, throwing sanctions at Russia from all sides, might just be the last for Putin. But perhaps the most important development is the restructuring of NATO forces on the eastern flank. Perhaps we are witnessing the fall of a new Iron Curtain, with Romania standing on the side of the free world this time around. By the time I write this article, heavy fighting is still ongoing in Ukraine. The Ukrainians are putting up a heroic fight, although the Russian army, determined to repeat the Grozny victory, is equally willing to level cities to the ground and trample whatever comes its way.
In 2002, NATO decided to create a Response Force, a technologically advanced, multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces components, that are rapidly deployable. It provides collective defense and a rapid military response to an emerging crisis. In addition, it can perform peace-support operations, provide protection to critical infrastructure and support disaster relief.
After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO allies enhanced the Response Force at the Wales Summit by creating a Spearhead Force within it. It was clear that the changing security context to the east and south of the Alliance’s borders required the elaboration of a new defense strategy, flexible and capable of swift intervention.
“It will be a new Europe after the invasion we saw today”, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on February 24, the day Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. For the first time in history, the Alliance activated its defense mechanisms. This bestows additional powers to NATO’s commander-in-chief, allowing him, for instance, to order and decide the deployment of troops to Eastern Europe. And NATO’s actions don’t stop here: in Romania, NATO is creating a permanent battlegroup. Such battlegroups were set up in the Baltic States and Poland after the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. These groups, known to represent an “enhanced forward presence”, became fully operational in 2017, and now they are being sent reinforcements.
The Empire, an obsession of Russian intelligence, from NKVD to FSB
After WWII, the threat posed by the Soviet Union was the primary reason for the emergence of NATO. The USSR’s expansion to countries in Eastern Europe prompted Western countries to close ranks.
To better understand what everything NATO has been doing since its foundation to this very day, we need to recall who was leading the USRR and then Russia. Whether they were called CEKA, GPU, OGPU, NKGB, NKVD, KGB and later, after the collapse of the USSR, FSB, the dreadful Soviet and Russian secret services were actually holding the power reigns in Moscow. The current Russian leadership makes no exception, although in 1991 Putin officially resigned from KB, but that was never a secret. Putin started being groomed for Kremlin politics shortly after he enrolled in the KGB, around 1975. After all, Vladimir Putin didn’t just materialize out of thin air when Yeltsin appointed him deputy chief of the presidential cabinet in 1997. A year later, Putin would take charge of the FSB, the successor to the KGB.
When totalitarian regimes behind the Iron Curtain started collapsing in 1989 one after the other, it was clear that, sooner or later, the USSR would follow. And the inevitable happened.
Ever since the 1990s, the Allies started building a cooperation with the new Russia, trying to establish a strategic partnership. To be fair, it was Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the USSR and the man who came up with perestroika, that made it all happen. The Allies were able to develop this relation even before the demise of the USSR and the signing of the Warsaw Pact, calling for peaceful negotiations instead of open confrontation. This hardline policy remained in place over the years that followed, a period when new forums were established, such as the Partnership for Peace or the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, with the very aim of fostering dialogue and cooperation with all of Europe, Russia included. The 90s were marked by the Yugoslav Wars. In recognition of Russia’s unique contribution, in 1997 NATO and Russia signed the document that allowed the creation of the NATO-Russia Council later in 2002. The Alliance treated Russia as a privileged partner, involving it a number of initiatives. 2002 is the year when the USA and Russia signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which remained in effect until 2011, when it was superseded by the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). Putin had been in the Kremlin chair for two years. What followed in 2008, when his armies moved into Georgia, makes you think that, actually, the whole plan about restoring the USSR, in one form or another, started being devised in Putin’s office at the KGB, right after the collapse of the USSR. This year marks 30 years since the war in Transnistria, where the pro-Russian separatists, backed by Russian forces, proclaimed the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Ever since, Russian military are stationed on Moldovan territory. It was nearly 14 years ago that Moscow started spreading its virulent propaganda targeting NATO, who had just recognized the independence of Kosovo despite Russia’s opposition. At the NATO Summit in Bucharest of 2008, Ukraine and Georgia were not awarded NATO candidate status. “There is no serious reason this year to further deteriorate relations with Russia”, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier, acting as Germany’s Foreign Minister at the time. Putin’s Russia thus saw a window of opportunity to unite the Russian people against an imaginary enemy, NATO, and to impose a new European security order by force, to Russia’s own benefit, in order to restore spheres of influence and rewrite the end of the Cold War. However, NATO’s open-doors policy delayed Moscow’s plans, and now Russia is using nuclear weapons to threaten NATO.
Why Vladimir Putin has already lost the war in Ukraine, regardless of its outcome
Vladimir Putin thought he would go up against a weak country from an economic and military point of view, not as weak as in 2014, but enough for Russia to be able to repeat the 2008 invasion of Georgia. Putin’s troops moved into Ukraine on February 24, taking every step Western intelligence and governments had warned about and chose to make public. Could Putin have been betrayed by his own intelligence? Or could it all be just part of his ruthless plan, to create the false impression of being weak before dealing the final blow and occupying Ukraine, which is truly what he’s after?
We don’t know how this hell-on-earth conflict on the old continent will end. However, one thing’s certain. Putin lost the war! The free world stands united closer it has ever been in the last 70 years, and it is willing to change its ways, because it can.
Putin stands alone! And it’s time for him to go!