Russian Federation and Russia historically have been a kingdom, Empire and nation that is easy to invade but very hard to defend against the Mongols; the first French Empire and Nazi Germany found this out for themselves and a host of other nations that invaded or have had wars against Russia.
Russia has flatlands perfect for Mongol hordes and organised armies and tank divisions.
Russia has shown that it can defend itself if it controls the invasion points into Russia by controlling the Carpathian Mountains last time the Russians had this control and security was during the Cold War from 1945 into the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Russians could only have security by having control of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, including parts of Finland which Russia won during the Finnish-Soviet War of 1939 to 1940, more commonly known as the Winter War.
This war also guaranteed that Finland would not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the alliance network created by the United States of America to fight Russia.
These geographical areas are essential to Russia because other power must do more than send tanks through these buffer zones. The territory is outside of natural defences, flatlands, and enough native infrastructure and space to ensure the war happens outside Russia’s borders.
Russia’s defence planning mainly involves plugging the invasion gaps with soldiers and fighting along defensive lines. Russians fight their wars by rail, not by roads, due to massive infrastructure projects not being practical due to the natural Russian geography.
It is hard for Westerners and people growing up in a liberal, multicultural and democratic society and worldview to understand the motivations for Russian leaders wishing to conquer and hold vast sway of territory.
It’s not only alien but an antithesis to Western values since 1945.
What needs to be understood is that the Russian leadership and peoples come from entirely different historical and cultural backgrounds. Russians are not just Europeans; they are so Asians.
The Russians are Europeans who meet the Mongol hordes and see what has been created in contemporary Russia due to Western and Eastern cultural influences.
Russia is not a liberal society; it does not favour a liberal worldview that has been hard-won and thought for in the West, where the individual is just as important as the collective.
This is why the Russians can afford to take losses of 5 to 1 or 10 to 1, and Western liberal nations can not afford those kinds of losses because the West favours individuality over collectivism is one of the significant differences between Western civilisations and other civilisations.
There is also the Russian view of international politics when it is the survival of the fittest, where nations rise and fall in their abilities to protect their soil and compete to be the global or regional hegemony.
History before 1945 was when nations thought nations were in an independent self-help system described by international relations scholars like John Mearsheimer, author of, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and the system where nations fight for survival.
Mearsheimer uses the example of Otto von Bismarck and their policy of destroying the Poles to prevent the recreation of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, which would threaten Germany and the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, respectively.
The reason why this was such a threat to Germany was that in the 19th century, Germany was surrounded by enemies to the West in the forms of the Second French Empire, the East by the Russian Empire, to the south by the Austrian Hungarian Empire and to the north the decaying Scandinavian powers of Denmark and Sweden.
As for the North Sea, this was the territory of the British Empire, the largest empire the world had ever seen, dominating international trade in the 19th century.
So like Russia and its actions in the Ukraine war and Germany in the 19th and early 20th century, these nations perceive themselves as being surrounded by enemies and aggressors who would see their destruction if given a chance but keep in mind their point of view.
They are not protected by natural defences like Great Britain and the United States of America; they are islands onto themselves. Geography plays a massive part in political decisions, what Tim Marshall, a journalist and author, ‘prisoners of geography’.
Russia Re-establishing Control of Invasion Gaps
Russia, since the end of the Cold War in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, has been trying to regain invasion gaps into Russia since 1992 with the occupation Transnistria region of Moldova.
In 1991 Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union; shortly after this event, the ethnically identifying region Transnistria situated on the east bank of the Dniester River, unilaterally declared independence with the backing of Russia.
The declaration triggered armed conflicts in the region, ending in a ceasefire on July 22 1992. Transnistria is a largely Russian-speaking population and has remained unofficially part of the Russian Federation since 1992, with Russian soldiers stationed in Transnistria.
Transnistria is home to Russia’s largest arms arsenal from the Second World War.
For people reading this who are fans of history, the collapse of the Soviet Union is very much reminiscent of the partition of the German Empire at the end of World War I in 1918, the Empire was broken up, and independent states like Poland were created.
Unfortunately, the divisions and new states created after World War I caused greater divisions and hatred that contributed to Second World War because ethnic Germans not living within the much reduced German Republic/Weimar Republic in 1918 and 1933 gave Nazi Germany a cause bill to expand its territories.
The World after the Cold War did not effectively deal with the remnants of the Soviet Union and Russia after a Cold War spanning from 1945 until 1989; like the Second World War, the origins of the Ukraine War can be found in the aftermath of the Cold War.
The Allied nations defeated the Russians, like Imperial Germany, after 1918.
However, due to the Russian use and availability of nuclear weaponry, that state could ne be defeated, which, like the First World War, led to the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, the Russians were able to rearm and rebuild their economy to be a recurring threat to the West.
‘Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much’-Oscar Wilde, an Irish poet and playwright.
Russians have repeated this process of occupying territory to fill invasion gaps in Russia, the examples above Transnistria region and during the Georgian Civil War 1992 to 1993. On October 20, around 2,000 Russian troops moved to protect Georgian railroads.
On October 22, 1993, the government forces launched an offensive against pro-Gamsakhurdia rebels led by Colonel Loti Kobalia and, with the help of the Russian military, occupied most of Samegrelo province.
Again in 2008, Russians on the pretext of protecting Russians after Georgia deported four suspected Russian spies in 2006.
Russia began a full-scale diplomatic and economic war against Georgia, followed by the persecution of ethnic Georgians living in Russia.
By 2008, most residents of South Ossetia had obtained Russian passports.
Like the Ukraine War, the Russian Federation created puppet republics since the 2008 war and subsequent Russian military occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian government, along with four other UN member states, considers the territories sovereign independent states: the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia.
The Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, South Korea and Japan have some of the world’s worst demographics with Ukraine due to the Ukraine war since 2014 has entered the club of nations with decaying demographics.
This means that nations that do not have replacement generations face the extinction of their cultures and economies because devout people who invest and work in the economy cultures and then nations would fade from human history.
Massive gouges are out of the Russian demographics due to the trauma of the previous century, with World War II killing 22 and 27 million Russians.
The great famine of 1930 to 1933 killed 7 to 8 million Russians and 4 to 5 million Ukrainians.
One of the most significant demographic crunchers in Russian people was the missed decade of the 1990s, were death rates doubled and birth rates halved.
What has been happening recently due to the war in Ukraine is that 1.3 million Russians a 35 and below fled the Russian Federation.
This happened due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and to fear of being drafted into fighting as part of the Russian war machine in the classic throw bodies at the problem until it goes away strategy of Russian warfare.
Sources and Bibliography
Atlantic Council The 2008 Russo-Georgian War: Putin’s green light link
Wikipedia Russo-Georgian War link
United States Holocaust Memorial THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC link
TRT World What is the Russian army doing in Transnistria? link
Prisoners of Geography: Read this now to understand the geopolitical context behind Putin’s Russia and the Ukraine crisis: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall link
Zeihan on Geopolitics Ask Peter Zeihan: Will Putin “Disappear” and Updates on Russian Demographics? link
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