“Why did they expand NATO and renounce the missile defense treaties? They are to blame for what is happening now, for the tensions building up in Europe.”—Vladimir Putin

ACCORDING TO MILITARY EXPERTS WARS ARE UNPREDICTABLE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS—this hard truth is undeniable, I have no reason to question this assertion. There is no one who understands wars better than Vladimir Putin himself. And this naturally leads to the question: will the Russian leader go to war with Ukraine?

I ask this question because the possibility of war between Russia and Ukraine is the highest it has ever been—the massive military build-up by the Russians where it is estimated by US intelligence that by January 2022 there would be close to 175,000 Russian soldiers on the border between the two countries is proof we are about to witness something catastrophic.

Despite Western officials assuming that Putin will not launch an outright war with Ukraine because of the high possibility of massive military causalities on the Russian side, I completely reject this proposition.

Here is why I believe Russia will invade Ukraine:

I believe, technically speaking, Russia and Ukraine are already at war—remember the seizure of Crimea and the daily fighting in Eastern Ukraine between the government of Ukraine and Russian separatists? Thousands of people have died and are continuing to die in this conflict—this is clear evidence the war has been in progress years before this latest escalation.

Russia has nowhere to retreat in the face of NATO expansion; as such Putin, who considers NATO his enemy and for good reason, has to, from a strategic-military viewpoint, stop the expansion of NATO right to his border. This makes perfect military sense—this would be, to use the term loosely, a form of ”strategic-depth” for the Russians.

The nature of Western powers with regards to deals and treaties is that those signatures are merely ink on paper when they no longer suit the strategic designs of the formulators i.e. the West. Hence, treaties are regularly nullified based on intelligence reports that are not verifiable by anyone except for those involved. This makes the West, in the eyes of Putin, unreliable and untrustworthy.

And I think any security guarantees of a verbal, written nature are unlikely to convince anyone of their commitments to these potential treaties. So if no treaties are to be trusted and there is no reason to think the West will yield to Russian demands at all (they have already rejected most of the Russian proposals) Putin will need and indeed has taken matters into his own hands to guarantee Russian security.

Just to strengthen my point about the lack of trust in these written treaties and security guarantees, here is what Vladimir Putin said:

“We need long-term legally binding guarantees,” he told military commanders. “You and I know well that even they, legal guarantees, cannot be trusted because the United States easily withdraws from all international agreements it loses interest in for one reason or another … giving no explanations whatsoever.”

The interference of the Western powers in internal Russian affairs such as picking and supporting their favorite candidates that undermine Putin’s grip on power is another irritating feature of the interactions between the West and Russia. And this makes compromise from the Russian side difficult and irrational, since the West is doing everything in its power to dethrone Putin. Why should he not feel personally threatened by the West including in areas like Ukraine where NATO is playing a role? And since Ukraine has made it clear that becoming a full-fledged member of NATO is a key strategic security objective, there is no rational reason for Putin to not invade Ukraine.

Even the pro-establishment outlet Foreign Policy has published a piece arguing that the chance of an agreement between NATO and Russia is elusive —I think it is case-closed about what is the most likely scenario to play out.

And it is this: Russia will invade Ukraine, whether it attempts to seize all of it, or simply more chunks of it, the soldiers being assembled are not there for entertainment purposes but to go to war, just like when other places Russia went to war, like Chechnya in the 1990s, Georgia in 2008,  Crimea 2014.