Fri. May 27th, 2022

Just a fortnight ago on January 28, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Western leaders, including United States President Joseph Biden, not to stir “panic” by warnings of war with Russia, despite more than 100,000 troops at its border with Ukraine and in Belarus to the north.

Now, the West not only fears war within days, but have ordered their citizens to leave Ukraine. Last Friday, February 11, President Biden told Americans “to leave now…things could go crazy quickly.” His National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said a Russian invasion could happen “any day.”

Washington believes Russian President Vladimir Putin had already decided to invade and could give the order soon. Speaking at a Quadrilateral Alliance meeting hosted by Australia and including India and Japan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the conflict could happen even while the Winter Olympics, ending February 20, was going on.

With Russian forces, now estimated at 137,000 troops able to swiftly sweep through Ukraine and encircle the capital Kyiv, Biden asked to speak with Putin on Saturday, February 12. Thus, the fate of tens or hundreds of thousands of lives, plus the global recovery, sure to screech to a halt as war drives energy prices to the moon, lies in the hands of one man.

Will Putin invade?

Three things may be going through President Putin’s mind as he decides to be or not to be an invader: the long-term impact of war or peace on Russia and its standing in the world, the big-power rivalry with the West, and his own place in Russian and global history.

Not Western economic and other sanctions? For sure, he, his Cabinet and his generals have long calculated the excruciating economic, technological and other sanctions the West would impose on Russia and its leaders if it invades. They probably even have nastier things on their to-endure list that the West has not even brandished.

Just a fortnight ago on January 28, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Western leaders, including United States President Joseph Biden, not to stir “panic” by warnings of war with Russia, despite more than 100,000 troops at its border with Ukraine and in Belarus to the north.

Now, the West not only fears war within days, but have ordered their citizens to leave Ukraine. Last Friday, February 11, President Biden told Americans “to leave now…things could go crazy quickly.” His National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said a Russian invasion could happen “any day.”

Washington believes Russian President Vladimir Putin had already decided to invade and could give the order soon. Speaking at a Quadrilateral Alliance meeting hosted by Australia and including India and Japan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the conflict could happen even while the Winter Olympics, ending February 20, was going on.

With Russian forces, now estimated at 137,000 troops able to swiftly sweep through Ukraine and encircle the capital Kyiv, Biden asked to speak with Putin on Saturday, February 12. Thus, the fate of tens or hundreds of thousands of lives, plus the global recovery, sure to screech to a halt as war drives energy prices to the moon, lies in the hands of one man.

Will Putin invade?

Three things may be going through President Putin’s mind as he decides to be or not to be an invader: the long-term impact of war or peace on Russia and its standing in the world, the big-power rivalry with the West, and his own place in Russian and global history.

Not Western economic and other sanctions? For sure, he, his Cabinet and his generals have long calculated the excruciating economic, technological and other sanctions the West would impose on Russia and its leaders if it invades. They probably even have nastier things on their to-endure list that the West has not even brandished.

Just a fortnight ago on January 28, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Western leaders, including United States President Joseph Biden, not to stir “panic” by warnings of war with Russia, despite more than 100,000 troops at its border with Ukraine and in Belarus to the north.

Now, the West not only fears war within days, but have ordered their citizens to leave Ukraine. Last Friday, February 11, President Biden told Americans “to leave now…things could go crazy quickly.” His National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said a Russian invasion could happen “any day.”

Washington believes Russian President Vladimir Putin had already decided to invade and could give the order soon. Speaking at a Quadrilateral Alliance meeting hosted by Australia and including India and Japan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the conflict could happen even while the Winter Olympics, ending February 20, was going on.

With Russian forces, now estimated at 137,000 troops able to swiftly sweep through Ukraine and encircle the capital Kyiv, Biden asked to speak with Putin on Saturday, February 12. Thus, the fate of tens or hundreds of thousands of lives, plus the global recovery, sure to screech to a halt as war drives energy prices to the moon, lies in the hands of one man.

Will Putin invade?

Three things may be going through President Putin’s mind as he decides to be or not to be an invader: the long-term impact of war or peace on Russia and its standing in the world, the big-power rivalry with the West, and his own place in Russian and global history.

Not Western economic and other sanctions? For sure, he, his Cabinet and his generals have long calculated the excruciating economic, technological and other sanctions the West would impose on Russia and its leaders if it invades. They probably even have nastier things on their to-endure list that the West has not even brandished.

The crisis in Ukraine is not just playing out on the military level. The battle between pro-European and pro-Russian forces is also occurring via cartoons on social networks. This cartoon (Figure 1) celebrates the Russian-Ukrainian friendship by showing two women holding one another. This picture received many comments online. According to the anti-Russia camp, the image is humiliating, because it shows a Russian woman comforting a Ukrainian woman.
The crisis in Ukraine is not just playing out on the military level. The battle between pro-European and pro-Russian forces is also occurring via cartoons on social networks. This cartoon (Figure 1) celebrates the Russian-Ukrainian friendship by showing two women holding one another. This picture received many comments online. According to the anti-Russia camp, the image is humiliating, because it shows a Russian woman comforting a Ukrainian woman.

But precisely for the long-term concerns and objectives, Putin and his government and military have decided to steel themselves and the nation for the worst the West can do because letting things go in the direction America and its allies want would be worse for Russia.

What would that worse fate be? Plainly, to have the US-dominated NATO alliance with the most powerful array of advanced forces in the world bristling just across the Russian border where Ukraine now lies.

Putin has asked that its neighbor not join the alliance, but the West maintains that Russia should not dictate what other countries and groups do. Moscow itself is largely to blame for NATO and Ukraine wanting to get together when its forces invaded the country’s eastern region in 2014 and seized the Crimean Peninsula as well.

Still, having nuclear-armed NATO forces just minutes by missile from Moscow is just too close for any comfort and nearer than any potentially hostile forces were at any time in Russian history. Putin does not want that to ever happen under his watch.

Turning to big-power rivalry, this global confrontation has now expanded to Russia and China against two US-led defense groupings, NATO and the Quadrilateral Alliance also including Australia, Japan and India.

As with all major powers, the first order of business is to secure the home front. For China, it means keeping Taiwan from breaking away, curtailing Western influence in Hong Kong and stopping Myanmar’s drift toward the West.

Also, a gain was NATO’s exit from Afghanistan, though the resurgence of Islamic extremism in the country poses security problems for China’s Xinjiang Province, itself a bone of contention with the West for allegedly repressive and even genocidal policies.

Russia also wanted the West out of Afghanistan. Closer to home, it sent troops to quell a recent uprising in Kazakhstan. And, of course, Ukraine. As pointedly cited by fellow columnist Ben Kritz, President Putin sees its neighbor as part of one Russian nation: “Russians and Ukrainians are one people — a single whole … true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.”

Bottom line: In the battle with the West, Russia and Chine must first and foremost be secure in their home regions.

What if Putin invades?

We will discuss Putin’s goal in global and national history at another time, due to space constraints. The more urgent issue, especially for us in Asia, is the fallout from invasion.

One expert expects oil to rise to $120 a barrel of the benchmark Brent crude, from about $90 today. That 33 percent hike would push already soaring global and national inflation to excruciating heights. Add to that the escalation of liquefied natural gas prices, as Western Europe scrambles for LNG supplies to cover one-third of its consumption now supplied by Russia.

Figure 2. A caricature by Vitali Podvitski. The big bear represents Russia and the little bear represents Crimea. This little bear is putting his middle finger up at the vultures that are circling around Ukraine. The cartoon was published on VKontakte by Podvitski, following a letter from a little Crimean girl.

Almost surely, central banks would be forced to hike interest rates to contain inflation, squeezing borrowers worldwide. That would push countries, companies and communities into defaults on the massive debt, already high even before the pandemic, but now reaching or past unsustainable levels.

Back in 2019, the global debt stock was already past 70 percent of annual economic output or GDP — the prudent level allowed by the International Monetary Fund for nations — in many sovereign, corporate and household sectors. That precarious credit bubble is even larger now with massive pandemic expenditures and the loss of both incomes and tax revenues caused by global recession.

The US also fears that China may take advantage of war in Europe to grab Taiwan. Asia certainly hopes not, and Beijing would hopefully keep the peace and prove Washington wrong in its constant demonization of its rival.

All Europe, of course, will be convulsed by conflict, but may well settle for Ukraine under Russian control to avoid all-out war.

As for Putin, he would likely win a quick war, avoiding a tougher conflict when Ukraine doubles its forces in three years as planned or joins NATO. Then he buckles down for years of sanctions.

And Biden? America will be in greater demand as global protector. And his low ratings at home should recover. #

Russia has produced an intercontinental ballistic missile planned for service this year that “beats all defense systems” with a range of 11,000 miles. The RS-28 Sarmat has been named “Son of Satan” because it is an updated version of the SS-18 “Satan”.
Running on liquid propellant, its first delivery stage travel as fast as Mach 21 or 16,000 mph, carrying up to 15 Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) each armed with up to 300 kilotons nuclear warhead, a payload capable of destroying an area the size of Texas or France, wrote the British newspaper The Mirror.
Russia has already deployed 521 RS-28 ballistic missiles with 1,735 MIRVs. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China are currently confirmed to possess functional MIRV missile systems. Pakistan and India are developing MIRV missile systems. Israel is suspected to possess or be in the process of developing MIRVs.
The US was leading the nuclear arms race until 2014 when it decided to phase out the use of MIRVs in 2014 to comply with new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Ironically, the US was first to test MIRVs as early as 1968. Today, the US still leads Russia in having the most deployed missile delivery systems by 200 at 721 but lags behind Russia in terms of warheads by 264 at 1481. Besides, only Russia, and China last year and North Korea this year, have successfully tested exo-atmospheric MIRVs that reenters the earth’s atmosphere and glides at low altitudes capable of being guided to change targets while travelling at the speed of Mach 5.
As shown in the upper portion, traditional ICBM’s travel in a ballistic manner. Russia’s matured HGV technology, is in the lower portion. One Russian ICBM can carry up to 15 HGVs (MIRVs) capable descending the earth’s atmosphere guided to its target. Clustering 1 to 10 MIRVs in one ICBM is shown below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Ricardo Saludo is president of Center for Strategy, Enterprise & Intelligence (CenSEI) that provides expertise in strategy and management, enterprise development, intelligence, internet and media. He has served as Cabinet Secretary in the Office of the President, Republic of the Philippines Graphic, editor of Asiaweek Graphic. Saludo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from the Ateneo de Manila University, Master of Science in Public Policy & Management from SOAS University of London, a Certificate of Business Leadership from Cornell University in the US and a Diploma on Strategy & Innovation from Said Business School of the University of Oxford.

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