The unspoken reality about whether or not there will be be war in the Ukraine, is that it may not be synchronized with other regional conflicts around the globe. Even without a coordinated offensive, foes of Israel, Taiwan, and South Korea may still take advantage of the conflict.

Taiwan has lived with overbearing neighbors for centuries. Since democratic rule in Taiwan, China has continually pushed for unification. In addition to the Olympics, China is watching the Ukrainian crisis closely. Western reaction to the Ukrainian conflict, will guide China’s Taiwanese aspirations. But will China take advantage of the Ukrainian situation to achieve their objectives? Or will they just closely watch the events as they unfold, to determine their next move?

French President to the Rescue?

In the meantime, European leaders are sprinting to Moscow and Washington this week. Significant international efforts to defuse the standoff increased yesterday. French President Emmanuel Macron met with Russian leadership in Moscow and is scheduled for a visit to the Ukraine tomorrow. Macron believes full-scale war with the Ukraine can be avoided. And his trip to Moscow and Ukraine is in the international spotlight, which comes just ahead of France’s presidential election in April.

Prior to his departure for meetings in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Macron was calling for a new balance “to protect not only European states but also to appease Russia” and that Russia may have legitimate concerns over their security. Macron also reiterated that the sovereignty of Ukraine is not a discussion point, trusting that Putin will be open for further discussions on wider issues such as economy, nuclear weapons, and de-escalation.

Macron shared that “we must protect our European Brothers by proposing a new balance capable of preserving their sovereignty and peace” and “this must be done while respecting Russia and understanding the contemporary traumas of this great people and great nation.” Just last month, the French president called for renewed relationships with Russia stating that the EU should open dialogue with Moscow, rather than rely on Washington.

Is this all about Putin?

There are many who believe this conflict is not about Russia, but instead Putin, who wants to carve out his place in history by restoring Russian control over the Ukraine. Most Russians have no desire for war. Further, many Russians live in the Ukraine with many desiring to become part of Russia again.

Other than control, why does Putin want the Ukraine? Is there more to this than meets the eye? I had a great discussion over the weekend with a U.S. Citizen who immigrated from Russia over 20 years ago, just before 9/11. His belief is that Putin does not really want the Ukraine and the associated headaches. Instead, he wants part of the Ukraine. According to this former Russian citizen, Putin is interested in obtaining the land between the current military buildup site and the Dnieper River – 150 miles to the west.

The Dnieper River would provide an easily defensible border for Russia from the west. The Ukrainian lands on the Russian side of the river are comprised of productive farmlands, raw materials, and a good industrial base centered around the city of Kharkiv. Additionally, a significant railroad and logistics center is in and around the town of Gorlovka [Horlivka], Donetsk Oblast Ukraine. The city was severely damaged during the War in Donbas and is under control of pro-Russian separatist forces. However, the suburbs of Horlivka are still under Ukrainian army control.

Perhaps more unsettling are his thoughts on timing. He believes once the West satisfied that there will be no war, only then will Putin make his move.

What do we do? How do we move forward? Both the U.S. and other Western European countries continue to send arms to Ukraine and military troops to the surrounding countries. Russia continues its military buildup and honing their military capability around the border. I trust war is not inevitable and that perhaps French President Macron will have a successful and productive meeting with Putin.

This week, the world is watching more than the Olympics.


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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at