How To Not Bluff: Russia & Ukraine Explained
Updated: Feb 24
When playing poker, you're not going to get the best hand every time, but you need to make people think you have the best hand every time you play your hand.
You have to bluff. And bluffing takes skill.
You need courage, some math knowledge and most importantly, some sort of emotional intelligence. Are you playing with a bunch of sissy's who will fold, or with a group of people who have the cojonoes to call your bluff?
And that my friends is the position Russian President, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, finds himself in.
You see, President Putin has backed himself into a corner. If he doesn't attack Ukraine, he looks like a sissy where leaders across Europe, Asia and the United States called his bluff. However, if he does attack Ukraine, tens of thousands of civilians in Ukraine and Russia will die and Russia's economy will be ruined because of war and sanctions that Europe and the United States would enact against Russia.
This is a brief explanation of the Russian/Ukrainian conflict and how President Putin bluffed himself into a real predicament.
What is NATO and why is it important?
You cannot understand this conflict unless you know what NATO is.
NATO is a military alliance, headquartered in Belgium, that was started in 1949, between 30+ countries and partners across Europe, North America and Asia.
Their main objectives are deterrence and to protect each other in case one of them is attacked. An attack on ONE NATO country is an attack on ALL of them.
The United States is part of NATO and the largest funder to NATO's budget.
When Ukraine decided to leave the Soviet Union in 1991, it accelerated the fall of the Soviet Empire, which was already crumbling with many of the nations within it leaving or declaring independence.
Once the Soviet Union Empire fell, NATO swooped in and began to wield its influence at Russia's doorstep. Countries like Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and Estonia joined. NATO made partners with former Soviet countries such as Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
NATO's influence so close to Russia has made Russia uneasy for the last three decades. The Russian government's sentiment of NATO being so close to Russia can be summed up by this quote from Putin last year, "Are we deploying missiles near the US border? No, we are not. It is the United States that has come to our home with its missiles and is already standing at our doorstep."
But what is the redline that Russia will absolutely not tolerate?
Ukraine joining NATO.
Ukraine wanting to join NATO is 1 of the 2 main reasons why Russia and Ukraine are at the brink of war
Ukraine wants to join NATO.
And a majority of Ukrainians living in Ukraine want to join NATO or the European Union. Basically, they want to be more aligned with the Western European and North American countries.
This is a HUGE NO NO for Russia. They do not want Ukraine to join NATO as that would put a NATO country right at Russia's borders. That would mean weapons and soldiers from any NATO country would be right at Russia's doorstep which would decrease Russia's influence in the area and make Russia vulnerable to an attack from the NATO countries if conflicts were to arise in the future.
Ukraine wants to join because it would provide them security, weapons and protection from Russia.
But why does Ukraine want protection from Russia?
Because Russia is wylin out on Ukraine's Eastern border.
(For those of you born before 1990, wylin out means doing crazy stuff)
What's been happening since 2014?
In 2014, Russia invaded parts of Eastern Ukraine that are heavily Pro-Russian. Though the majority of Ukrainians want a sovereign country, there are large factions of people in Eastern Ukraine that borders Russia that want to be part of Russia. In their eyes and in the eyes of the Russian government, the people of Ukraine and Russia are one. They have similar cultures and speak the same language or at least speak both Russian and Ukrainian.
The 2014 invasion/annexation of Crimea and the Donbas region in Ukraine by Russia was in large part due to the Ukrainian Revolution.
In 2014, the Ukrainian President at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, who was basically a Russian puppet, refused to sign the Ukrainian - European Association Agreement. This was a very popular agreement amongst the Ukrainian population because it would set up Ukraine to become part of the European Union in the future, and all the benefits that come with that (travel, economic benefits).
Yanukovych declined to sign it. The Russian government didn't want that agreement signed because it would decrease Russia's influence over Ukraine. The people of Ukraine revolted and overthrew Yanukovych, who is now now living in exile in Russia.
Because Ukraine's new government was not Pro-Russia, Russia attacked Ukraine's Eastern border out of retaliation. Eventually, some sort of cease fire occurred but nearly 14,000 Ukrainians died and there is instability in the area today.
Stop me if you heard this one before. Money and gas are the second major reason why Ukraine and Russia are on the brink of war.
Russia is the biggest supplier of fuel to Europe. Around 35%-40% of Europe's fuel comes from Russia. This gives Russia MAJOR leverage over Europe which needs Russia's fuel to heat people's homes and to operate factories.
Can you imagine what would happen if Russia were to stop supplying fuel to Europe? People wouldn't be able to heat their homes, gas prices would skyrocket and factories would cutback on production or close down. It would devastate Europe's and the global economy.
It would also create a shit ton of angry people across Europe. Imagine not being able to heat your home in the winter time? (There's a reason why Putin is escalating this conflict during the winter time).
Okay, you explained Russia provides Europe with fuel, but so what? What does that have to do with this conflict?
A HUGE chunk of that gas that gets supplied to Europe goes through pipelines in Ukraine. Without the pipelines in Ukraine, a huge chunk of the gas supplied to Europe would cease to get delivered.
Ukraine makes BILLIONS of dollars per year helping transport gas from Russia into the rest of Europe. And a HUGE chunk of this gets transported to Germany, which is Europe's largest economy and imports 65% of their fuel needs from Russia.
Russia just finished building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is a gas pipeline that connects Russia straight to Germany, underneath the Baltic Sea. The $11B pipeline, which was completed in 2021 (but not operational yet), DOES NOT go through Ukraine and therefore Ukraine won't get any transport fees which could equate to billions of dollars per year.
Ukraine is like yo, without that pipeline going through our country, we lose billions of dollars in transport fees AND it makes us less important to the world because now Europe doesn't need us to help transport fuel to them. (Ukraine will still have some pipelines passing through, but Nord Stream 2 decreases the amount of fuel going through Ukraine dramatically.)
The United States is like yo, we don't like that pipeline because it makes Russia more powerful because it now has another direct pipeline connecting Russia to Europe. It increases their wield of power in the area. It's why the last several American Presidencies opposed the construction of it.
Germany is like yo, we like this pipeline because it gives us a direct source of fuel without having to go through several different countries. It's cheaper and if it's cheaper, it means people are happier and happier people means more votes and more votes mean, the government currently in power, stays in power. But at the same time, it makes Russia more powerful and we don't like that. But cheap gas doe.
Now Ukraine is like yo, Germany do not certify and operate the pipeline. And Russia is like yo, I will go, ex-girlfriend who was scorned, crazy on you Ukraine, and bomb the hell out of you.
So what now?
For the last several months, President Putin has moved Russian forces and weapons towards the Ukrainian border. The world has tried for a diplomatic solution but nothing has worked so far.
Russia has demanded that Ukraine will never to be allowed to join NATO. The US, Ukraine and NATO have rejected that demand, saying as a sovereign country, Ukraine can do whatever they want. Russia has also demanded Germany certify the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline and begin to make it operational.
So far, none of these demands have been met and Russia is on the brink of attacking.
But are they really....
This is where Putin has overplayed his hand and backed himself into a bad predicament. By moving heavy forces into attack positions he backed himself into a corner.
As mentioned earlier, if he doesn't do anything, it will make him look weak. But if he does attack, thousands of people will die and Russia's economy will tank. Sanctions will cripple Russia's economy and the general public will eventually turn on the government.
Putin's bluff, which might not be a bluff, is a no win situation for him. However, for the sake of the Ukrainian people, one can hope that there is no war and those people can live in peace.
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and a diplomatic solution can be worked out. But if not, Europe will descend into a war that has not been seen since World War 2.
Family Guy Predicted Putin's Bluff 13 Years Ago (Play the video)