We know many conquests in history, and the most famous is the Triple Pact from the recent past. It was a political agreement of September 1940 between Germany signed by Adolf Hitler, for the then Kingdom of Italy signed by Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, and Japan joined as an empire. For the latter, the pact was signed by Japanese Ambassador Saburo Kurusu. With the Russian attack on Ukraine on February 24th this year, it is not yet clear who the signatories of the apparent pact between Russia, China, and associated Belarus are, but it undoubtedly exists.
Russia has never survived the collapse of “its” Soviet Union, which was based on socialist-communist foundations and the Russian Empire. Interestingly, the Russian occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989), which cost the Soviet Union and Russia billions, contributed to the rapid disintegration of the Soviet Union. Ever since Putin came to power in Russia, there has been a growing Russian desire to rebuild an Eastern European empire that should never have existed. Whether the Russian Federation will also disintegrate after the attack on Ukraine based on economic collapse remains to be seen, and the first signs are already showing that the war will cost Russia considerable money.
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stressed that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a historic mistake. The first realisation of major territorial appetites occurred in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea to Russia. This is a territory that belongs to Ukraine under international law. We watched the sequel as we watched developments in eastern Ukraine, which escalated into a war between the two countries. In the two Ukrainian provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, under the strong influence of Russia, separatist tendencies and demands for joining Russia began.
At the time of the annexation of Crimea to Russia in 2014 Putin did not encounter much resistance from Ukraine and the rest of the world. This was also because the then security forces of Ukraine were in a rather loose state, and the rest of the world believed that Putin would give up at that point. It was then that Ukraine realised that it was under threat and began to consolidate. It transformed the military and gradually introduced NATO standards. It has received some armaments from the West, but most has been done by U.S. military instructors, who have taken on the burden of transforming the military. Therefore, Ukraine these days awaited the Russian army in much better shape, and during the crisis in its east, the homeland consciousness was also strengthened.
Months before the attack
Months before the attack on Ukraine, Putin showed growing intolerance. Sanctions against Russia, imposed after the violent occupation of Crimea and in support of Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, have weakened the Russian economy and lost influence in international politics. Additionally, they started looking at him from abroad from under their eyebrows when he defended the dictator after the dubious victory of Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 and strong protests.
Today, some commentators condemn Western politics and diplomacy for their allegedly biased attitude toward Putin. They claim that they denied his importance, which led to military aggression against Ukraine. The truth is different. Putin opted for aggression because he underestimated the rest of the world. It turned out that he had completely misjudged both the situation in Ukraine and the possible reaction of the world, which this time took a united and decisive stand on the side of the attacked country.
In February this year, Putin began military exercises with 400 troops on the Ukrainian border. The number of troops grew rapidly and soon went into the thousands. After a few days, Belarus joined and sent about 20,000 Russian troops to its territory, where they continued their activities together. Just before the attack on Ukraine, there were already more than 100,000 Russian troops in the border areas. It was clear to the military observer that something big was being prepared, and some intelligence services had warned against this.
However, the prevailing view was that Russia would not attack, which Putin himself had falsely assured. Most believed these claims, even though Russian military units were fully combat-ready in the Black Sea, at Crimea on the border with separatist areas, and Belarus. Even those who ultimately believed that Russia would attack predicted that it would only step into the previously recognised separatist Ukrainian “republics” of Lugansk and Donetsk.
The fact that Russian troops are deployed over a much wider area has been overlooked. We should also envisage the use of Russian troops stationed in Belarus. It was these units that were used for the war march against Kiev. If Putin had not intended Kiev, he would not have needed his troops in Belarus.
What points to a new third pact?
Following the brutal aggression on Ukraine, the United Nations Security Council met to propose a declaration condemning the attack. Russia was expected to veto it, but China abstained. Putin has been forced to cooperate economically with the Chinese throughout the sanctions, but the latter have benefited the most. The Chinese have an increasing influence in the Russian economy, and this, in addition to the economy, is also squeezing Russian politics.
China has great global interests. Europe and the United States stand in the way of their implementation the most. That is why the global crisis, in which its biggest rivals are involved, is in its strategic interest. In all these and some other combinations in connection with Chinese interests in Taiwan, the claim that Russia invaded Ukraine with China’s consent is well-founded. Maybe even by agreement, which is why Putin was so confident as his troops marched into the neighbouring country.
The third member of the new pact is Belarus. It is an associate member of the Eurasian Alliance, which has made its territory available to attack the neighbouring sovereign and democratic state. In the end, the recent referendum in Belarus, where a new state status was voted on, is of most concern. This should be transformed into a nuclear power based on the alleged will of the electorate. The referendum amendment to the constitution stipulated that it allowed the presence of the Russian army on its territory.
The presence of the Russian army on the territory of Belarus means that Russia can deploy its nuclear military capabilities in this area. This fact alone is changing the balance of power on European soil, and if it comes to fruition, it will put the situation further on Europe’s new defensive foundations.
Throughout the story, it is an encouraging fact that European as well as world countries have finally woken up. They have unanimously condemned and approved sanctions against Russia, which will help speed up the withdrawal of the Russian army from Ukraine. It is very encouraging that practically all countries have agreed to increase their military budgets. According to pacifist attitudes, this is perhaps the biggest leap of thought, as there is no peace without a balance of power. Based on all these findings, even the most reluctant countries have approved aid to Ukraine in arms.
In the end, we can say that Putin is not stupid, but he is crazy. Because he is crazy, this must be considered and not rely on a crazy man not to use destructive weapons. If he assesses that he is in a lost position, he can stretch his arm even on the so-called red button. For him not to do so, I believe that preventive action must be taken. The fact is that sooner or later the Russian people will settle accounts with him, but there are serious fears that the nation will be overtaken by events and Putin himself. Preventive means neutralising a dangerous fool from Kremlin. Hint; smart weapons or something like that.
Davorin Kopše is a war veteran for Slovenia, a candidate for MEP and an active citizen.