“You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never to get involved in a land war in Asia.” – The Princess Bride
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson knows that Ukraine and Russia sit on the edge of Asia, but squarely in Eastern Europe. The border of the massive landmass from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans has been the site of many battles. The continents are not entirely divided, so, understandably, this warning should apply to the current threats and posturing between Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the rest of the world.
Referring to World War II is usually reserved for expansionist aggression by Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan, but Soviet Russia played a crucial part in the greatest conflict in Europe. And after the conclusion of the war in 1945, Russia expanded its satellite states into Eastern Europe during the Cold War. British Prime Minister Johnson said all the signs there. Intelligence proposes Russia plans to send off an attack that could destabilize the region and result in hundreds of thousands of casualties.
According to Johnson, Russia seems ready to launch an attack that will promptly circle Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv. Biden has already indicated that the city will be sacked if Russia attacks. Johnson wants us to comprehend the sheer loss in human lives when this happened. He focused on the ridiculous and protracted war that would ensue. Johnson thinks that Russian President Vladimir Putin contemplated a successful war and not the catastrophe ahead. He thinks it would be a disaster for Russia if they crossed the red line.
Russia took Crimea in 2014. But Putin says the West is stoking panic for their advantage. He thinks that America and the UK want Russia to get into a protracted battle with Ukraine. But his interests are different from simply preventing NATO growth after the Cold War.
Russia denies it will annex Ukraine but may take a bite. Johnson was in Munich, where a world security gathering took place. The United States and Britain have threatened to block Russian organizations’ US dollars and British pounds. The United States and Great Britain are anticipating a Russian attack on Ukraine.
Johnson keeps hinting that the UK’s response to Russian aggression would go a lot farther than he has committed to in the past. He seems to think that his American companions in the White House are willing to provide a unified front against Russian expansion. He continues to put Putin in the insane class of villains. And that is a mistake.
London, England, is a financial hub, and Johnson and his government have taken steps to impede Russian businesses from doing transactions using British institutions. Without going into specifics, Johnson has sworn that there would be no place for Russian oligarchs and that he could jam up Russian banks.
Russia has more than 150,000 soldiers hovering near Ukraine. Russia is one of the top oil and natural gas exporters globally, mainly in Germany and Central Europe. For now, oil is traded in dollars as the global reserve currency. But China and Russia want to change that and free businesses tied to the West. Putin called for diminishing dependence on the US, and recent energy contracts with China have been estimated in Euros. Billions of dollars have been siphoned into Western financial markets since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. If Boris and Joe wanted to send Vlad a message, now is the time to do it. Freezing and seizing his assets and those of his buddies exposed in the Panama Papers would get his attention. It may anger him enough to start a war too.