Make no mistake about it, we missed many of the tea leaves that Russia left the world over the last decade, prior to its invasion of Ukraine.
Regardless of how you feel about the invasion, it’s tough to ignore that there were warning signs leading up to it. Namely, Russia had taken exception to the formation of NATO, the military alliance that was initially created “to blockade the Soviet Union’s growing sphere of communist influence” after World War II.
NATO had expanded its boundaries from 1999 to 2020, adding 14 new members, “including many former Soviet-controlled countries,” WTHR wrote last month.
Russia took offense to this, seeing it as a way for NATO to limit its influence globally and, in 2021, NATO member states expressed their intentions to take in Ukraine. Putin – whether you agree with him or not – felt like he had to take action.
And not only did we miss many of the tea leaves leading up to the invasion – until, of course, weeks before it happened and Russia was literally lining up troops on the border – we also misread the tea leaves regarding how Russia would react to economic sanctions.
The consequences of this will be profound.
The short story is that the West may have arrogantly overstepped its boundaries regarding economic sanctions because of a false illusion that we wield some type of monetary power over Russia. As I pointed out yesterday, Russia seemed content to call our bluff, allow its currency and stock market to absorb temporary shocks, and then play hardball by linking its currency to its productive capacity (oil) and its gold.
The ruble has rebounded all the way back to pre-invasion levels as a result.
While I’ll give credit where it’s due – we don’t appear to be on the precipice of World War III just yet and all those who have prevented an escalation thus far deserve their due – we must also remember that we are standing idly by as though nothing material on the global economic stage has changed permanently when I feel that just the opposite is true.