The West is still trying to fathom what Putin’s long-term objective is by invading the Ukraine. Looking at the deployment of Russian troops in the east of the country and the continuing bombardment of Mariupol it seems the strategy is to split Ukraine, annexing Donbas, and effectively reducing the territorial integrity of the Ukraine by half. Once this has been achieved Putin is likely to enter into serious negotiations with Zelensky, predicating any agreement by insisting the Ukraine remains neutral, thus emasculating a sovereign state to that of a satellite of Russia.
Although there has been orchestrated theatre among nations supportive of Ukraine’s valiant opposition to Russian aggression, there has been no undertaking to declare boundaries to Putin’s ambitioins for a reclaimed Soviet-style empire. Evidence since the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 shows plainly that Putin cannot be trusted; this should not come as any great surprised except among the politically naive, and that, sadly, is what most Western democracies have shown themselves to be. What with Kremlin-directed assassins ridding Putin of dissenting voices in Russia and abroad, draconian measures to silence the population at home and the disappearance of an untold number of Russians and Ukrainians, no doubt to gulags, the West is witnessing the rebirth of Stalinist tyranny! All Putin has to do is threaten to play his nuclear card and the West starts to quake. Appeasement has not been proved to work; it may buy time but, as a foreign policy, it simply puts off the evil hour. Eventually the aggressor has to be faced.
If Putin and his dream of empire is to be stopped, the West must take a far more robust stand. This can only be realised by making commitment to the independence of sovereign nations, and the willingness to underwrite that pledge by military action, if need be, brushing aside the lame threat of nuclear war; only a madman would wish to plunge his country and the world into the abyss; and Putin is far from crazy! So, NATO has to decide on a “red line”, and unlike Obama’s promise to take action in the Syrian civil war over the use of chemical weapons, it has to demonstrate the backbone to see it through. The time for playing the “shrinking violet” is over: let the Western powers show their mettle.