Putin’s Threats to Sweden and Finland Are Much More Real Than They Are Being Given Credit For – Opinion

Rush Limbaugh, the great Rush Limbaugh, used to tell us that you can listen to the Left’s speech if it is what you are looking for. There is enough evidence at the moment to conclude that the same aphorism can be applied to Vladimir Putin. But listening is just one part. We must put aside our blinders and preconceived notions and pay attention to Putin’s previous actions and place what he’s saying in that context.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zajarova warned Finland and Sweden on Friday

Finland and Sweden must not place their security at risk by compromising the security other countries. Accession to NATO may have negative consequences for their security and could lead to some political and military consequences

My colleague Nickarama covered this broadcast in Russia Threatens Two More Countries With ‘Military and Political Consequences.

Many have called this Putin’s cracking and laughed at it. They shouldn’t. The threat to their lives is real.

You must do amazing things to be great.

My personal view is that Putin’s actions are driven more by his sense of Russia’s place in the world and by his legacy. You are wrong to think that the ultimate goal of Russia is the reconstituted USSR. The Russia of Nicholas I is his goal. He’s not interested in Potemkin Soviet Socialist Republics. According to him, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova are integral parts of Greater Russia. We know that Putin’s idol is Peter The Great. Putin is only 69 and is aware that his time is short to leave an immeasurable legacy. Don’t underestimate the potential he may do. Expect him to make a lasting legacy and to emphasize Russia’s uniqueness and bring Russia back to imperial glory.

It is almost inevitable that the next step will be taken.

Putin has to quickly find a way to win the Ukraine war if it goes wrong. Putin will have to spin the Ukraine invasion victory story as an opportunity for another win. Putin is now in the third act of his matinee. He has a limited amount of time to do what he thinks needs to be done, don’t count on him wasting it.

Take a look at what Putin accomplished.

Putin’s Russia has gone to war twice. Two wars have been fought: the first against Georgia and the second against Ukraine. There are some similarities between these two countries. Because they were both part of Soviet Union, the two nations developed close connections to the West and shared a border. Both countries also were potential NATO members.

Which characteristics are they sharing with Finland and Sweden, Each share a border to Russia, Finland on the Arctic Circle and Sweden at Gotland. Finland has the vulnerability of having been part of Romanov Russia, and, as Putin said, it was “granted” independence by Lenin. Both Sweden and Finland have open invitations to join NATO, and while they have not done so (Sweden is leaning that way, Finland is saying “we’ll think about it”), they are building close military ties with NATO.

Russia considers Arctic territory its own.

I encourage you to read Russia’s Coercive Diplomacy in the Arctic, published in July 2021 by the Arctic Institute. It is noted that Russia has spent billions to develop military and civil infrastructure in the Arctic. This was partially supported by Chinese development funding.

While trying to limit the potential of a military conflict in the region and still hoping to cooperate with the United States for global and regional stability, Russia is bolstering its influence in the Arctic through coercive diplomacy, to show that the United States should not overlook or underestimate Russia’s interests in the Arctic – part of Russia’s desire to be recognized as a global power by the United States.

Part of the reason I believe this is wrongheaded. It is hard to think of anywhere in the world where US and Russian interests come into contact that you can find the Russians pushing for “global and regional stability.” Just the opposite. Russia thrives upon conflict, because Putin believes that it shakes up the status-quo, and Russia will reap the benefits of this instability. A Russia interested in “stability” would not act as it has for the past decade or so.

Russia now claims 70% of Arctic seabed. Note that it hasn’t made new claims near US economic zone areas, but the new Russian claims butt up against those claims of Canada and Denmark (Greenland).

Putin will likely continue doing what he finds works.

Putin will not fight NATO directly, according to my opinion. He will work to undermine NATO, though he’s delusional if he thinks he can do a better job than Joe Biden. I doubt that he’ll make a run directly at Eastern Poland even though it is very clear from Putin’s speeches that he considers that area to be historically Russian because Poland’s army could probably thrash the Russian army, and it would activate Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Latvia and Estonia have an extremely large proportion of Russian ethnics. Russia could do in the Baltic States what they’ve done in Moldova and Ukraine; they could create AstroTurf “separatist” groups to declare independence and invite Russia in to protect them. It would be risky, as the Baltic States are NATO members. But it’s something to watch. The logical target for Putin’s next adventure is a country where his intervention poses a direct challenge to the West but does not represent a direct challenge to NATO.

Who’s next?

Finland is my guess.

Northern Finland would be useful to Russia’s Arctic expansion. Moscow could make plausible claims for Finnish territory dating back to Tsarist time. As Putin has labeled Ukraine “neo-nazis,” I expect Finland’s role as a Wehrmacht auxiliary force will be brought to the fore. If Finland were to be cut off, it would create the same problems for the West as in Ukraine. This would make NATO member countries that have been in contact with Russia look to Moscow for a solution rather than being the evidence-case that NATO is useless.

In short, Russia’s threat against Finland and Sweden was not something out of left field. Both nations fit into the same model Putin used for his military exploits. Attacking both countries supports Putin’s personal goals and supports Russia’s strategic goals in the Arctic. An attack on either country would be a weakening of NATO, but it wouldn’t create a NATO military reaction. Plus, the warning issued to Sweden and Finland sounds very much like Putin’s earlier warnings to Georgia and Ukraine. I think he’s telling us what his next move is, and we’re fools if we don’t listen.




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