There is a great deal of angst in the prepper-verse about Germany allowing its Leopard 2 tanks to be exported to Ukraine and the likelihood of the U.S. selling its M1A2 Abrams tank to Ukraine. It’s all over my YouTube feed with Canadian preppers and Ninja economists freaking out, convinced this is the beginning of the end times.
Russia is also upset, with Russian commentators suggesting that this is a throwback to WWII when Germany invaded Russia. One commentator said they should nuke the German parliament in retaliation.
This is all happening in a time when Russia has spy ships off Hawaii, is sending a ship armed with hypersonic missiles into the Atlantic, a Russian submarine with nuclear torpedoes is who knows where, and they reportedly taken delivery of one of the largest nuclear missiles, the Satan ICBM. Add the threats by Russia, and we get hand wringing by the media, pundits, and folks trying to make a buck of your fear.
My advice is not to worry about it. Russia will do what Russia will do and a few dozen tanks will not change that.
Calling Russia’s Bluff
The presence of German tanks in Ukraine, just like the presence of Polish airplanes, UK anti-tank missiles, and U.S. HIMARS and Bradley fighting vehicles, is no existential threat to Russia. Thirty-one Abrams Tanks delivered at some unspecified time in the future—likely months if not years away—aren’t going to allow the Ukrainians to invade Russia and fight their way to Moscow. The idea that this is a repeat of WWII is an exaggeration by an attention-seeking talking head. This action is not an attack on Russia, but defensive weaponry provided to a country Russia invaded without considering the unintended consequences of such a move.
Of course, it is a reminder to Russia that they do not intimidate the Germany, the Poles, the U.S., and rest of NATO. That creates an internal problem for Putin by making him look weak.
When the Nord Stream pipelines blew up, Russia didn’t nuke anyone. After the Crimean bridge attack, Russia fired waves of missiles at Ukraine, but not outside their borders. Russia has repeated threatened to attack the UK and other parts of NATO but hasn’t even attacked the flow of weapons as they cross from Poland into Ukraine. Why? Because they are having a hard enough time fighting the remnants of the Ukrainian army. They don’t want to give NATO an excuse to get involved.
But they have to do something, so Russia’s response is bluster, hyperbole, and threats. My feeling is that if Russia was going to strike back at NATO, they would have done so already. Now their bluff is being called and they don’t like it.
Russia is Losing Face
By defending Kyiv in the opening days of the war, by refusing to welcome Russia into Ukraine with flowers and parades, and by stopping the Russian advance and destroying their troops and equipment, Ukraine defeated Russia in the biggest way that counts. Russia’s international standing will never be the same. Their military might is now in doubt. Russia cannot easily recover from the damage done to their reputation. Given two or three years at significant cost, Russia might still overcome Ukraine, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
Let’s not ignore the fact that by bombing civilians and sites that have no military value, Russia is showing its true colors. By pillaging cities, kidnapping children, raping women, and executing civilians, Russia shows it is guilty of war crimes. Whether the UN actually does anything about these crimes remains to be seen, but it is not helping Russia’s reputation or winning them many admirers on the world stage.
Meanwhile, new life has been breathed into NATO, which was a faltering organization. Eastern Europe is no longer asleep at the switch. Military budgets are climbing. Sweden and Finland are trying to join NATO. There is even talk about allowing Ukraine to join, which would never have happened if Russia had not invaded. The U.S. is suddenly everybody’s favorite ally again.
This war is also giving NATO a chance to test their weaponry. We see how well HIMARS work, how useful drones are, how important air defenses can be, and the value of man-portable systems like Javelins and Stinger missiles. Now we’ll get to see how our armored vehicles perform. That’s good for us and for the companies who can sell these goods to our allies.
The Nuclear Threat
Since the very first day of the “special military operation,” Putin has made threats alluding to the use of nuclear weapons. Could the war go nuclear? Yes. Do we know where their line in the sand is? No. I’m not sure Russia knows, either. Putin, like Obama, was when his red line was crossed in Syria with chemical weapons, may have boxed himself into a corner where the cost of living up to his threats is too high a price to pay.
Boxing Putin in and calling Russia’s bluff is a dangerous game. As preppers, we need to be ready to weather a nuclear attack and make the best of it. If we survive the attack, we have to live through the fallout and then the aftermath. That was the case one week into the war and it remains the case today. Now that we are almost one year into the war, our individual readiness should be even higher than it was.
One day, a straw may break the camel’s backs and unleash a nuclear exchange, but we don’t know what that straw will be. It might not even be something NATO does, but internal pressure within Russia. It’s out of our individual control. Nothing you and I can do can stop it, so don’t waste time and energy worrying about it. Don’t let fear porn videos get you worked up. Have a plan, be prepared, and then be at peace, knowing you’ve done all you can do.