Why did Putin invade Ukraine now?
History answers these questions.
Why? Putin is an anti-democratic fascist. A communist would not tolerate a capitalistic oligarch class; Putin makes them rich; they support his dictatorship; that’s fascism. (Sound familiar?) He kills opponents, invades neighbors, commits war crimes (remember Syria), and controls the media.
Blaming Biden, Republicans claim to know why now, shamefully trying to gain political points rather than presenting a united front against fascist aggression. “We have a weak president,” “Failed our allies,” “leads from behind.” Withdrawing from Afghanistan was “an invitation to the autocrats.” Trump said it’s “because of a rigged election,” claiming Putin’s “pretty smart” for “taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions.”
While Western Europe was colonizing overseas, Russia was colonizing peoples in Eurasia. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 there were 15 new nations. When Ukraine became independent, it was agreed that Ukraine, giving up its nuclear weapons, would be a neutral state between east and west. But this was not good enough for Putin.
Gaining power in 1999, Putin had two goals: preventing democracy in Russia and the former Soviet Republics and restoring his geopolitical control over these republics. He has successfully established puppets in several, including Belarus, and invaded Georgia. Ukraine rejects him.
Poland joined NATO in 1999 and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2004. Putin hates NATO because it is an obstacle to his desire for expansion in Europe. A stable democracy is a prerequisite for membership in NATO. Trump and his Republican cronies have worked to destabilize Ukraine.
Between 2004 and 2014 Republican Paul Manafort earned $12 million from Russian oligarchs doing Putin's bidding in Ukraine and helping to elect Viktor Yanukovych a pro-Russian, anti-NATO leader in 2012. In 2014, when protests overthrew Yanukovych because of corruption and his policies, Putin’s response was to take Crimea. Obama put sanctions on Russia.
In the spring of his 2016 campaign Trump questioned NATO’s relevance, saying he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out. Despite the pushback, Trump continued to question our involvement as obsolete (implying that Russia is no longer a threat) and too expensive. In Trump’s questioning NATO Putin saw a friend or a fool he could manipulate. Trump publicly asked Putin for help in his campaign, which Putin was quite willing to give.
Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairperson. Manafort/Trump changed the GOP Platform, weakening support for Ukraine. Manafort was ousted from the campaign when the public learned he continued his Russian contacts during the campaign. Manafort, eventually convicted of financial fraud and failing to register as a foreign agent, was pardoned by Trump!
In office, Trump blamed Ukraine for the election interference believing Putin’s denial of Russian influence. Trump agreed that Crimea should be part of Russia and wanted to ease sanctions imposed by the Obama administration allowing Russia back into the G7. He supported Putin’s “peace” plan to carve out part of Eastern Ukraine. In 2019, newly elected Zelensky was confronted with Trump’s blackmailing and withholding of promised military aid. Between 2017 and 2019 Trump had an unprecedented 16 or more private conversations with Putin, even confiscating translator notes. Trump wanted the American people to never know what he and Putin talked about. According to his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, Trump had contempt for Ukraine and thought about what’s good for Trump, not about geopolitical threats to Europe. From 2004 to 2021 Trump and Republican actions helped destabilize Ukraine, which helped keep it out of NATO.
As recently as the 2020 campaign Trump discussed with advisors removing the U.S. from NATO. Their advice was to wait for his second term to do so, as it could cost him some votes. With 87,000 troops on the border of eastern Ukraine during Trump’s presidency, it appears that Putin was postponing his invasion so he could take the Baltic States and possibly even Poland as well. Days ago, Russian state TV called for “regime change in the U.S.” calling on Americans "to again help our partner Trump to become President."
Blaming Biden, who has worked hard to repair Trump’s damage, Republicans are forgetting Trump’s cozy relationship with his friend Putin and authoritarians, his alienation of European democratic leaders, his attempts to withdraw the U.S. from NATO and the GOP’s destabilizing role.
Putin has long talked about restoring Russian control over the “breakaway” Republics from the Soviet Union. Even if Trump was reelected, Putin, might have waited a year to allow Trump to withdraw the U.S. from NATO, thus making Putin’s job easier.
Republicans’ saying that Joe Biden is partly responsible for why the invasion is taking place now is partly correct. The 2020 election of Biden removed Putin’s “friend” Trump from office, preventing him from taking the U.S. out of NATO.
With U.S. membership in NATO secured, with Poland and the Baltic States protected, with Ukraine moving to a working democracy with individual freedom under Zelensky and its possible future membership in the European Union and NATO, and with nothing more Putin can gain from Trump, there is no reason for Putin to wait.
We can now add another name to the long list of amoral, soulless Russian leaders: Ivan IV the Terrible, Alexander II, Lenin, Stalin, and Trump's friend, Vladimir Putin.