• Ewen Levick

How Putin's Ukraine gamble impacts Mongolia

Vladimir Putin is locked in a high-stakes gamble. Through amassing an invasion force on Ukraine's eastern and northern borders, he appears to believe he is forcing the US to make a decision – either allow Ukraine to fall permanently within Russia's sphere of influence or become embroiled in a proxy war against the Russian military on its own doorstep. Although Mongolia is 5,000 km away from Ukraine, this major crisis nonetheless affects the country's security architecture, which has worked well over the past three decades.

Tactical wisdom dictates that you should strive to seize the initiative. In ground combat, forcing your opponent to react to your movements, instead of the other way around, creates opportunities to secure victory. On the surface, this is what Putin appears to have done on the issue of Ukraine: he is forcing the US to react to his moves.

Except geopolitical strategy is more nuanced. There are too many options available to an opponent to force such a clear cut decision.

In calling out the possibility of Russian action, refusing Putin's demands and arming the Ukrainians, Washington has called the bluff.

In precipitating this crisis, Putin has in fact forced a difficult choice on himself. He can either retreat without achieving any concession from the US, or he can invade Ukraine and embroil Russia in a costly and bloody occupation of another country.

Fighters in the Donbas region of Ukraine. (Wikimedia)
Fighters in the Donbas region of Ukraine. (Wikimedia)

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