When Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine under the premise of eliminating Neo-Nazis from the Ukrainian ranks, nobody believed him. He seemed to believe that his list of countries that would back him to the hilt was a long and distinguished list that wouldn’t have a problem with what he was doing. Given the message he was putting out for the world to hear as he invaded, he expected other nations to just let him do what he wanted to do.
Unfortunately for Putin, he found out that other countries were not as timid as they once were. Organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) wanted to see nations like Ukraine, Finland, and Sweden join its ranks for years. While they will never attempt to force or even push another country to join if they don’t want to, Ukraine presented a unique opportunity for many of these nations.
When Putin invaded, it gave nations like the U.K., Germany, Poland, the U.S., and others a chance to funnel weapons and money into Ukraine so they could fight the Russians back. Putin didn’t seem to anticipate their level of commitment and the Ukrainian commitment to stay and fight for their land. By providing this protection, they gave them a taste of what NATO protection looks like, and while they cannot join NATO mid conflict, Sweden and Finland can, and currently are.
This has led to more saber-rattling, which, in turn, pushed Putin’s call for a meeting of the Moscow-led military alliance of post-Soviet countries. This meeting simply “did not go well” according to a Russian analyst, basing this ruling largely on reported internal squabbles as well as a lack of public consensus expressing support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This gathering of the six members making up the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) failed to mention Ukraine, Russia, or the conflict.
The infighting has been going on for a variety of reasons. Kazakhstan had its own political unrest in January and has openly stated that CSTO troops would not fight in Ukraine. Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in turn criticized CSTO countries for selling weapons to Azerbaijan. These countries have been engaged in hostile action with one another over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh for years, but it was reignited in 2020 after a 44-day war. PM Pashinyan said, “The response of the CSTO member states during and after the 44-day war in 2020 did not leave Armenia and the Armenian people very pleased.”
This division of Putin’s supposed allies spells nothing but problems for the Russian leader, no matter how this turns out. He has truly backed himself into a wall, and when other nations are more worried about infighting than supporting the regime that brought them all together, there is a big problem going on for his support system.
The Russian and Belarusian complaints about not being supported by their five allies are the total opposite of the allied front the Ukrainians have with about 15 other countries at the moment.
Putin isn’t just losing face here, though. His own countrymen are turning against him and the Kremlin in record numbers. Protests have been occurring more frequently than in years past. As the police crackdown on the protestors, they are learning just how closed off Putin is making them, as well as how wrong his invasion is. While their opinion doesn’t matter to him, with reports circulating that his health is not so good these days, he might want to watch who he upsets.