Why is military aid to Ukraine important

interview Putin's military march: threatening backdrop with several addressees

Today in the east: What does Russia want to achieve with its military deployment?

Dr. Manfred Sapper: Russia creates a threatening backdrop in an almost theatrical way. So it is clear: It is not about a massive blitzkrieg, but about a message to various addressees. The first is Ukraine, which Putin is trying to intimidate. The second, much more important addressee is the USA under the new President Joe Biden. Putin is examining how strong Biden's support for Ukraine actually is. He also wants the United States to treat him on an equal footing, and that's one way of doing that. After all, Putin is pursuing domestic political interests: He wants to divert attention from the Navalny case, unite the elite and the military and bring the population behind him through a friend-foe scenario.

But why is Putin using such a massive threat of war?

The militarization of foreign policy results from the fact that the other resources of Putin's power are exhausted: its dynamism, its charisma. Rising oil prices are history. The economy has stagnated for years. In order to secure power, the Putin system is increasingly relying on repression internally and on imperial behavior and saber rattling in foreign policy.

How will the US react to Russia's muscle games?

The US has no interest in the conflict in eastern Ukraine escalating. But unlike Trump, Biden will show that the US cares about what happens in Ukraine. Biden's announcement that it would move two warships into the Black Sea impressed Moscow. Such a clear signal of deterrence came unexpectedly.

How does it go from here?

The Russian troops will stay for a few weeks. I don't assume there will be a massive ground war. The slow, staged and demonstrative march contradicts this. With this military threatening gesture, Putin created bargaining ground for himself. In a dialogue with the US it could amount to a deal: we will refrain from a major war against Ukraine and you will stop threatening our Nord Stream pipeline with sanctions.