What will stop Russia from invading Ukraine?

Newt Gingrich
Conservative Opinion

Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker; Chairman of Gingrich 360
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A worldwide show of strength may force Russia to back down from its threatened invasion of Ukraine and send a powerful message to others who are watching closely. Nearest to the center of the storm, countries to the north along the Baltic including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, are dramatically increasing their defense budgets.

At the same time, Russia is facing growing resistance from Ukraine. The United States, Canada, and Great Britain are helping Ukraine strengthen its military with better training and better equipment. Ukrainians themselves are also pushing back.

People I trust believe that, in fact, even the Russian-speaking Ukrainians are now pro-Kyiv and anti-Putin. They don’t want to see a war. They don’t want to be occupied by Russia. They don’t want to become, you know, part of Moscow’s world. They want to orient towards the west. And so, it’s conceivable that Putin is gonna be told by his experts that you can’t effectively go into Ukraine.

It appears Russia may be positioning itself for disruption along the border without a full on invasion from its regular army.

The Russians have developed what they call hybrid warfare. That’s where they have various groups. They pay them, they might look like criminal gangs, but they’re actually Russian special forces.

One other consideration is Germany and its complex relationship with Russia.

Germany is now so dependent on Russian natural gas, and the former prime minister or chancellor in the German system of the Social Democratic Party, in fact, now is the chairman of a Russian oil company making a huge amount of money representing Russian interests. So, Germany, I think, has become the most unreliable ally, since the creation of NATO.

As for the U.S., in addition to military support, the Biden Administration is also laying out very strict sanctions if Putin were to proceed, and I must say, Biden’s team is handling this situation better than I expected.

They’ve been calmer, more forceful, and have taken the right kind of steps in general. Hopefully, it’ll work, because if Putin can get away with some kind of adventurism in Ukraine that sends a signal to Xi Jinping that he can probably get away with adventurism in Taiwan and may send a signal to the Iranians that they could get away with adventurism in the Middle East. So a lot depends on handling this calmly, firmly, but not giving into Putin and not allowing him to play games.

The problem in Ukraine may be the most dangerous we’ve seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1982. The reason is that it relates to a whole series of things that could go wrong.  

In the north, the very small countries along the Baltic – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia – are all dramatically increasing their defense budgets. They feel very pressured by Russia, and they’re right on the Russian border, of course. Slightly to the west of Ukraine, the Poles who always fear the Russians, have a whole new sense of being afraid. The Hungarians are beginning to be worried. The Romanians are worried. So there’s a lot of tension around Ukraine. 

In addition, with help from Canada, Great Britain, and the United States, the Ukrainian military is being strengthened. It’s getting better trained, it’s getting better equipment. So the cost to the Russians of an invasion of Ukraine is going up and getting higher.

On the other hand with the seizure of Crimea, the Russians acquired, the kind of strength in the Black Sea that makes it very challenging for us to be able to take them head on in that region. 

So far, it’s not clear what Putin’s goals are. 

People I trust believe that, in fact, even the Russian-speaking Ukrainians are now pro-Kyiv and anti-Putin. They don’t want don’t want to see a war. They don’t want to be occupied by Russia. They don’t want to become, you know, part of Moscow’s world. They want to orient towards the west. And so, it’s conceivable that Putin is gonna be told by his experts that you can’t effectively go into Ukraine. 

At the same time, the Russians have developed what they call hybrid warfare. That’s where they have various groups. They pay them, they might look like criminal gangs, but they’re actually Russian special forces. So they could cause disruption along the border without necessarily having the Russian regular army go in. And we don’t know if he might try that or not.

If you believe what Biden has been saying, the administration’s taking a very hard line and saying any effort to cross into Ukraine would be considered the equivalent of an invasion. The U.S, in addition to training and arming the Ukrainian military, has indicated pretty clearly willingness to impose very, very direct sanctions on Russia and to cause Putin enormous economic pain.

However, Germany is now so dependent on Russian natural gas, and the former prime minister or chancellor in the German system of the Social Democratic Party, in fact, now is the chairman of a Russian oil company making a huge amount of money representing Russian interests. So, Germany, I think, has become the most unreliable ally, since the creation of NATO.

And we don’t have any idea. The Germans probably would like to hunker down and hide because due to their green policies, they’ve been closing down fossil fuels. They’ve been closing down nuclear power. They’re really dependent on Russia for about 40% of their energy. And so the Russians could throw them into both a depression and, in the middle of the winter, a really miserable human situation with no, no energy to heat houses, or schools, or office buildings, or to run factories. This thing has not worked its way out yet.

I must say, I think that President Biden and his team have been better than I thought they would be. They’ve been calmer, more forceful, and have taken the right kind of steps in general. Hopefully, it’ll work, because if Putin can get away with some kind of adventurism in Ukraine that sends a signal to Xi Jinping that he can probably get away with adventurism in Taiwan and may send a signal to the Iranians that they could get away with adventurism in the Middle East. So a lot depends on handling this calmly, firmly, but not giving into Putin and not allowing him to play games.


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