Russian propaganda has been successful in spreading the misconception that the current conflict is about Ukraine. Baltic governments have been consistently warning that the invasion of Ukraine is merely the opening salvo of WWIII. This is a classical war of imperial conquest. Russian propaganda claims that Europe is interested in conquering Russian wealth but this is a propaganda inversion, Moscow wants Europe’s wealth to fund Russia’s superpower aspirations.
It is important to understand that 80% of Russia’s population is concentrated in a relatively small part of European Russia centered around Moscow, the original Russia. The rest of Russia – the colonized lands – are thinly populated. Russia is the last European colonial empire and the question facing Russian decision makers is whether the empire will end up being replaced by a colonial empire of yet another nation?
For millennia have conquerors targeted wealth and this time is wealth the motivation as well. The Biden administration early designated Beijing and Moscow as its “competitors” or “rivals”. This has proven to be a costly mistake. Beijing is Washington’s real rival, Moscow is just desperate about its empire being conquered by Beijing. Washington should have striven to align with Russia against China to encircle China. Meanwhile Beijing is happy to see its potential enemies at conflict with each other rather than confronting China.
Han civilization has expanded for millennia through colonization at the expense of other peoples and is still doing so in Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Much of China is densely populated and the Chinese government is building a gargantuan military machine in order to territorially expand and then colonize the conquered lands with Han people. What are the territorial ambitions of China? First all of Siberia, second thinly populated areas of European Russia, third all of Central Asia, fourth the eastern thinly populated parts of Iran, fifth the Middle East up until the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and sixth the entire Australia. These are Beijing’s colonialist ambitions and Moscow is keenly aware of them.
What then about Russia’s ambitions? For Russia, this is a matter of national survival but Russia of course has its own imperial ambitions. Russia does not only want to survive as an empire but wants to once more become a superpower. In order to realize this ambition Russia needs to reach the Indian Ocean (through Central Asia and Iran) and the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean (through Europe). Russian strategic planners understand that WWIII with NATO and WWIV with China are completely inevitable and are preparing accordingly.
Conquering Europe will be a bloody business but Russian decision makers are keenly aware of the Western unwillingness to use tactical nuclear weapons. Russia for its part is ready to use tactical nuclear weapons to deter the United States and compel the Biden administration to abandon its European NATO allies. Russia has already commenced a campaign of war propaganda about nuclear war in order to scare the easily frightened Biden administration. This is preparation for the political use of tactical nuclear weapons, most probably against military bases in Poland. Russia understands that a second Trump administration would respond in kind by nuking Russian military bases, however Russia presumes and probably with justification that President Biden would exercise extreme restraint to avoid nuclear escalation. In other words, the US under the leadership of President Joe Biden would most likely not respond to the use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons by responding in kind.
Russia sees a unique historical opportunity due to the weak leadership of the present US administration and its extreme reluctance to resort to the use of force. Everyone knows that Biden will in all likelihood be succeeded by Donald Trump in the White House in January 2025 and Russia is determined to use this window of opportunity to wage WWIII to conquer the entire Europe from Poland to Ireland.
The question then is if WWIII in Europe is inevitable? The European Union could have built a unified European military and the EU could then together with the US have allied with Russia in a comprehensive encirclement of China. With the proper strategic preparations could Europe have become a valuable ally of Russia against China. It must be understood that for Russia, imperial expansion is not a matter of choice but a question of destiny and survival. NATO’s refusal to defend Ukraine is for Moscow evidence of the utter weakness of the West and that Europe is indeed ripe for Russian conquest.