Why is Ukraine the West's Fault? - John Mearsheimer
Cool, I was already about 20 minutes into this one from the other day, and it's logged another million views in the interim. It does a pretty good job of helping to understand the Russian perspective.
But Dr. Mearsheimer essentially said "Unless we incorporate Ukraine into NATO, Putin would never invade". There have been ongoing discussions on admitting Ukraine since well before the 2014 Crimea occupation began, but it didn't seem like anything serious enough to warrant this level of aggression, and especially not lately. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Putin figured that Biden intended to admit Ukraine, and without NATO-trash-talking Trump, felt threatened.?
What else has changed since 2014? A sharp downturn in fossil fuel prices, especially in the European market, following the invasion of Crimea:
Coupled with the sanctions imposed against Russia after the Crimean invasion, it was a brutal gut punch delivered to the Russian economy that they haven't recovered from (plot is Russian GDP per capita):
It's not clear to me (or probably anyone) whether further sanctions, and especially "targeted" sanctions, will be offset by acquiring Ukraine's warm water ports and other assets or not, but maybe Putin believes so. I kinda doubt it. I understand how insular Russian media is, but I'm still baffled that there hasn't been more of a populist backlash in response to devolving into a failed petrolstate, even if that's nowhere close to the way the frustration is voiced. I know the NATO calculus is that sanctions will lead to more civil unrest, but I grieve for the commonfolk who will bear the brunt of any suffering while the oligarchs go on living lavishly.
This took me by surprise, though - Left without a voice, anti-war Russians pen open letters to Putin:
Many of the more than 150 signatories are well-known in Russian intelligentsia circles: leading activists, artists and intellectuals who in recent years have formed a small but vocal minority against the Kremlin’s increasingly repressive politics.