February 11, 2015

Countering Putin’s Grand Strategy

By Robert D. Kaplan

The heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine this week isn’t the only reason to be skeptical about the prospects for the peace summit that began Wednesday in Minsk, Belarus. Even if the meeting among Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Puti n, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande produces a cease-fire agreement that holds up—unlike the one signed last fall—the conflict’s underlying reality will remain unchanged: The Russian-backed separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine is part of Moscow’s larger grand strategy.

President Putin, who is consumed by historical humiliations, knows that Russia was invaded not only by Napoleon and Hitler, but before that also by the Swedes, Poles and Lithuanians. And so the Russian president seeks a post-Warsaw Pact buffer zone in Central and Eastern Europe. The Kremlin play book: imperialism by way of forcing energy dependence, intelligence operations, criminal rackets, buying infrastructure and media through third parties, the bribing of local politicians and playing off the insecurities of ethnic minorities.

Read the entire op-ed at The Wall Street Journal.