Analysis: The Ukraine – Russia crisis will be resolved with a 2022 Munich style appeasement
Let's start with the basics: no one wants a full-scale war in Ukraine. Not Ukraine, not Russia, not Europe and not even the US. For Ukraine, still recovering from the annexation of Crimea and invasion of the Eastern part of the country in 2014, the full-scale invasion would mean a huge hit to its economy and its world standings. In short, it would be a military and economic catastrophe. And it could very well result with the loss of sovereignty and statehood. It would also mean heavy military casualties for both sides.
For Russia occupying and administrating Ukraine would require hundreds of thousands of soldiers and a colossal economic expenditure. All this could lead to huge domestic pressure, which could very well end as a blow the Putin’s regime could not recover from. The US and Europe also do not want a war, in which would be painted by the world media as moral cowards for failing to help Ukraine defend itself. The widespread anti-Russian sanctions would also inevitably mean economic hits for everyone involved. Russia is the world's No. 2 oil exporter and Europe's biggest gas and energy supplier. Sanctions would send inflation and energy prices, already high, to even new heights. So what does Russia really want with Ukraine? Simply, to make sure Ukraine is not a part of the western/European order, and to keep it isolated, vulnerable and prone for future destabilizing Russian hybrid wars/infiltration/small scale land grabs/possible future coups. This can only be achieved if Ukraine is not part of NATO. So far Putin's Russia only attacked and occupied countries that were not part of the Western/European order such as Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine. In the 23 years Putin wielded power in Russia he has yet to openly militarily attack a NATO member. So how will Russia stop Ukraine from joining NATO? By doing exactly what Russia has been doing for months now: amass the army on the border; threaten to invade and start a war; put economic and psychological pressure not just on Ukraine, but also Europe and the US who do not want a full-scale war in Ukraine. How to resolve this crisis without going to war? The only way is to make Ukraine cave to Russia's demands, namely to renounce its NATO membership plans or at least to postpone it indefinitely. How will this be done? Ukraine will be offered a carrot. First the US and the EU, namely France and Germany, will offer it some sort of “guarantees of safety”, which will be worthless as those that Ukraine received in 1994 in exchange for disarming itself from its nuclear arsenal. They will also offer it economic help and generous loans, perhaps even visa waivers to Europe, and freebies that the Ukrainian leadership can present to its people as a “great achievement” in exchange for delaying or even giving up the NATO membership. However, if Ukraine and its leadership decide to decline these carrots, they will be offered the stick. The stick will consist with basically leaving Ukraine to fend for itself against the Russian army in case it actually invades. No diplomatic, military, or economic support will be offered to it and it will be made clear to the Ukrainian leadership that they will be totally on their own to deal with Russia. Given these two options, it’s hard to see how the Ukrainian leadership would choose the stick over the carrot. And even if it were to choose to stand up to Russia alone, the EU/US pressure would be applied to make it change its mind. So how is this current Ukraine – Russia conflict going to end? Shortly, maybe in a matter of weeks or months, there will be some sort of international convention or summit that will be held with Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the US, where all the leaders of those states will attend and declare that they have averted a catastrophic war and that they achieved “peace in our times”. In exchange for Ukraine giving up or indefinitely delaying its NATO membership plans, Russia will promise to withdraw its army from the border and abandon any invasion plans in the near future. This will satisfy Putin in the short term, but it's highly doubtful that Russia will stop there. As stated earlier, Russia's long-term goal is to make sure that Ukraine is part of the Russian order and not of the European/American one. The comparison to the Munich agreement can be easily applied to today's events because Europe and the US will force Ukraine - just as Europe forced Czechoslovakia in 1938 - to give up its own national and defence priorities, and to appease and give in to Russia's demands. We all know how Czechoslovakia ended after the 1938 Munich agreements. Let's hope Ukraine fares better.
However, considering the history of Russia’s similar pressures on Ukraine, which started in 1655 and ended with its full annexation in 1795 (together with the rest of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Ukraine, still called Ruthenia, was then part of). The growth of both Russian and Prussian Empires on the carcass of Poland, Lithuania and Ruthenia / Ukraine (they gave parts of Ukraine and Southern Poland to Austria to keep it on their side) led to the explosion of the Russian and Prussian colonial powers in the Nineteenth Century. In the Twentieth Century they transformed into two most monstrous totalitarian regimes in history and in the Twenty First, in case of Russia, into a golem on clay legs leaning towards China in alliance against the West.
The West behaved predictably in the same way in the face of both Russian and Prussian threats to the region throughout: it has always sided with the colonial and totalitarian powers against the democratic Polish First (1569-1795) and Second (1918-1939) Republics, the only power in the region capable of standing up to Russia’s gargantuan ambitions. Had the British and Northern Alliance turned up during the 1792 Polish-Russian war (as they were obliged by treaties), or in 1920 (when Poland, devastated by a century of colonialism and the First World War, conquered Red Russia) or in 1939 (as they were again obliged by treaties) and had they not given the whole region away to Stalin during Teheran (1943) and Yalta (1945) Conferences, we wouldn’t be in this mess today.
But like attracts like, and the colonial (today entirely economic) ambitions of the West have always been in quiet collaboration with the economic colonial ambitions of Russia, and certainly not with any of the many democracies that all those colonial powers have been destroying and devouring for the last three hundred years with each other’s, and their internal audiences, tacit approval. Today the West’s old greed has made it vulnerable to the Russian and Chinese regimes, which possess natural upper hand through their sheer power of relentless brutality. In such state of affairs, the West’s only survival mechanism today is to turn its own post-democratic systems into corporate totalitarian regimes, which it has been busy accomplishing.