Putin's Invasion Brought About The Thing He Fears Most
And it's not Ukraine joining NATO
Two weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country has managed to defy the odds and stay undefeated. Russian forces have been trying to make it to Kyiv with no success and the Western world has united in sending Ukraine weapons and money to help stave off Russian forces in the hopes that sanctions and economic collapse within Russia will force Putin to remove his troops.
Putin initially cited Russian concerns that NATO posed a security threat, which makes invading Ukraine seem a bit absurd as now the question of Ukraine joining NATO is not if but when. A much more significant, region-altering process has already started however - Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has officially applied for membership in the European Union, and EU ambassadors have agreed to take the first steps in the admission process.
Gaining membership into the EU is a long process, sometimes taking up to a decade for a country to fully prepare to join. That both Zelenskiy and the EU have agreed to start the process now is a declarative statement - Ukraine is part of Europe, not Russia, and that Ukraine’s future will be a European one.
Moreso than joining NATO, Ukraine joining the EU would forever put the country out of Russia’s grasp. That is Putin’s real fear.