Russia would face a deadly existential predicament if it were to invade Ukraine

Russia is not a normal country where people are free to express themselves and have a say in its politics. It does not have a properly functioning diversified economy, and the country has been under the grip of Putin’s authoritarian rule for several decades.

Any invasion of Ukraine by Russia will be disastrous for all the parties concerned, in the short run, and be a fatal error on the part of Russia. Thousands of innocent Ukrainians will die, and, no doubt, the same fate awaits many young Russian soldiers. In addition, the country will become divided, experience large-scale destructions and the economy will most likely collapse. The result will be extreme misery and put the Ukrainian people on a miserable road for a long time to come.

If Russia invades Ukraine, the West will not allow Russia to easily extricate itself from the inevitable, deadly predicament that Russia will face. On the contrary, they will do everything to make Russia pay a heavy price. Although all of Putin’s military interventions so far paid off – starting from the violent putting down of the Chechnya independence aspirations and the annexing of parts of Georgia and the Crimean Peninsula – any invasion of Ukraine will be a different matter.

Russia will not have a smooth ride into Ukraine, even if the objective behind any invasion were limited, such as to establish a pro-Russian government and leave. Many Ukrainians will resist fiercely, and the West will engage seriously to weaken and break up Russia itself.

Present-day Russia is the result of conquests and annexations of lands, and many nations/ethnic groups within the present-day Russian border would take any opportunity to revive their dreams of independence.

As Russia does not have a good economy, it will inevitably go to China for a lifeline. But China will demand technology transfer – especially those that will help upgrade its military – cheap raw materials and energy. However, in contrast to Russia, China has a properly functioning highly dynamic economy and it is likely to continue developing, growing and becoming more technologically sophisticated. As such, there may come a time when China becomes so strong that it might even invade and annex parts of Russia.

Putin does not get any respect from the West, which he desperately seeks, and the lack of it creates, in him, an intense resentment of the West. Also, the West is playing their long term strategic game of weakening and surrounding Russia, and the Russians know that and can see how things are happening all around them.

I remember how badly Putin was treated when soon after 9/11, he rushed to America to show solidarity with the country in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. He was kept waiting by Bush, and it was clear from the TV footage that he felt humiliated, marginalised and partly blamed for what had happened.

Often, when you succeed, time after time, using your resolve and methods, like the story of Putin, what you have achieved or the methods that worked for you so far may either die with you or backfire and collapse because you have overdone it. Unless you can see that it’s time to stop, the next step you take, based on the same methods and resolve, may deliver a result very different from that envisaged.