Russia’s battlefield struggles make the use of a weapon of mass destruction more likely
This proxy war effectively makes Russia uninvestable while Putin is in office (or a future successor who continues his policies). Sanctions will remain in place for the long term and would only be removed in the increasingly unlikely event of a peace deal, though severe reputational risks and permanent economic and financial collapse of the Russian system will serve to foreclose future investment. Also, an increasingly repressive Russian state, bordering on totalitarian, will be hostile to Western investors.
US President Joe Biden introduced a bill for additional funding (beyond the US$ 11 billion already committed) in the amount of US$ 33 billion to help Ukraine, asking Congress to approve it as soon as possible. Reviving a World War II program, the US Congress passed a bill allowing the Biden administration to lend or lease weapons to Ukraine, which slashes red tape and quickly provides Ukraine with its requests for military equipment. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the West will support Ukraine in the war as long as is necessary “to put maximum pressure on the Russian president to end the invasion of Ukraine through sanctions and economic and military aid to Kyiv.” German Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Germany would be ready to back an immediate European Union ban on Russian oil imports, while the German Bundestag voted in favor of calling on the government to expand and speed up the provision of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Such a massive and wide range of financial, economic, energy, military, and diplomatic measures to support Ukraine are a tacit admission by the West that it is involved in a proxy war with Russia and intends to outlast Moscow in this burgeoning war of attrition. Moreover, such support indicates that the West expects the war to continue for the long term, is determined to not allow Ukraine to lose, and is likely seeking regime change in Moscow via this level of support and harsh sanctions. Western resolve will be severely tested in the coming months as already-high inflation rises even further from the energy sanctions and public dissatisfaction assuredly increases. However, pressure within Russia will be far higher, as the domestic population struggles with incomparably worse inflation, major job losses, loss of savings, no potential for economic recovery, a humiliating performance in the war, and horrific casualty rates. Such a domestic environment will inspire effective totalitarianism at home and matched with an inability to truly “win” the war—particularly amid energy sanctions and such high Western support of more sophisticated war materiel—this significantly raises the potential of Putin escalating the war dramatically to break the stalemate this month and try to deter the West from further support. This opens the possibility of a false flag operation on Russian territory, a call for national mobilization and martial law, and/or the use of a weapon of mass destruction in Ukraine.
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