Thanks Vladimir, for helping us get closer to the truth. As Karl Popper taught us, we don’t get to the truth by proving what is so, but by eliminating false theories, which lends conditional plausibility to the remaining theory.
The world has been debating three plausible theories about Putin’s motives for invading Ukraine: First is the one Putin gave originally — that NATO was getting too close to Russia’s borders and it would be intolerable for Ukraine to join it. This was a plausible argument, for the West had indeed blundered at the end of the Cold War. We should have reciprocated the demobilization of the Warsaw Treaty Organization by making the OSCE into Europe’s security organ instead of enlarging NATO.
The second and third theories blame mainly Putin. Theory two: Putin intends to re-assemble the Soviet Union, even if it means invading the countries that broke away in 1991. He intends to re-establish the old Russian empire.
Theory three: Putin and his Mafioso buddies are thieves and murderers. Whenever a neighboring state is democratic and not corrupt, Russians can see its superiority and may protest against their own government. To save his own skin, Putin had to weaken and divide democracies and attack Ukraine because its government was conspicuously better than Russia’s.
Until recently, all three theories were credible, but in early June Putin gave a speech comparing himself to Peter the Great, who subjugated the Baltic states and founded St. Petersburg. His new rationale is compatible with theory number two and therefore lets us eliminate theory number one, which must have been a mere pretext originally. Thanks for the clarification, Vlad.
But theories two and three remain credible. Which one is true? Probably both! They are compatible. Russia’s leader is a thief and murderer with delusions of being a seventeenth century Tsar “making Russia great again.” NATO didn’t cause that. The Russians must decide what to do about him.