Friday, April 04, 2014

Putin's prize: The Second Rome

Vladimir Putin may have come from the KGB.  But there arguably exists aspirations which are far away and removed from anything the Soviet Union set out to achieve.

Allow me to paint a picture...

Very soon, Russia's invasion of Ukraine will commence.  Complete control of Ukraine is not Putin's objective, but neither will it stop there.

There are even now reports of the Russian army stationed in Moldava beginning maneuvers.  It is altogether possible that Ukraine could be faced with invasion along two fronts.

Or not.

Ukraine is needed not to solidify Russia's annexation of Crimea, but to establish an uncontested highway for troops and materiel to be transported to the south and west.  Poland?  Likely it has barely figured into Putin's strategy.  Poland will not be a factor.  Putin is aiming for something far more than re-establishing the borders of Soviet domination during the Cold War.

The Russian army now has free and clear dominion across the north and northwest of the Black Sea.  Next on the agenda: Romania.  Which may or may not acquiesce to Russia's military movements.  When Putin's goals are made clear (perhaps by diplomatic channels) Romania will gladly afford the Russian army to pass through what could be called the "Carpathian Corridor".

And so too might Bulgaria, and then Greece, quickly rally to give passage to the Russian armed forces.  Political boundaries will yield to common cultural ties.  The entire region along the western Aegean Sea is now firmly under Russian control.

It will not be very long before entire divisions of soldiers, tanks, supply lines and reserves are sitting along the border of Thrace.

Ukraine?  Putin is aiming far higher than that.  Ukraine just happens to be in the way.

Because Russia has now positioned itself to take the true prize.  The prize that has been the ultimate goal of Russia - and Orthodoxy in general - for nearly half a millennium:

Istanbul.

The city once known as Constantinople.  The shining jewel of Orthodoxy, until it was conquered by Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453.

Putin knows that he must act soon.  Even now it is being actively discussed in Ankara that Haggia Sophia be turned once again into a Muslim mosque.  Haggia Sophia, which until the fall of Constantinople was the crowning architectural achievement of Orthodoxy as well as it's spiritual focal point in the earthly realm

Haggia Sophia is now a museum.  But to make it a mosque anew?

The Russian - and Greek - Orthodox will NEVER tolerate it.

And then Putin makes the final play of his long game: the re-taking of Constantinople. Russian Orthodoxy's long-dreamt re-conquest of Constantinople from the heirs of the hated Ottomans. The restoration of Haggia Sophia as a church.

It has long been said in Russia that Rome was the first, Constantinople is the second Rome. Moscow is the third. "A fourth there shall not be."

The Third Rome, after more than four and a half centuries, is readying itself to retake the Second. 

Vladimir Putin could very well deem himself the man who is destined to achieve Russia's longest, most lusted-after goal.

It is almost certainly a thought that Putin has seriously contemplated during the past several months and years.  For sure, it has been at least a lingering thought these past few weeks.

Think that western Europe will try to intervene?  In the two and a half decades since the fall of communism, Russia has come to control more than 1/3rd of natural gas and petroleum products throughout the European Union.  Putin merely has to threaten to shut down the pipelines and most of Europe will not be in a position to negotiate with him.

Meanwhile, the troops and tanks are set to roll across the border of westernmost Turkey.

And then they do.

The Second Siege of Constantinople has begun.

It has now gone from clear provocation to full-scale war between Russia and Turkey.

In addition to Istanbul itself, Russia and Turkey especially fight for control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.  The Dardanelles will likely be the secondary objective after entering Thrace.  If Russia succeeds in taking Istanbul - and it most certainly will - Putin will have effective control over the entire Black Sea region apart from northern Turkey.

All to reclaim Constantinople.  To at long last punish the Turks for the desecration of Haggia Sophia.

It could be the single largest open conflict between Christendom and Islam in hundreds of years.

This is the scenario that I have seen could possibly unfold.

Time will tell.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read this 4 times trying to find a fault in this scenario and I can't find one.

Scary times in which we live.

Anonymous said...

You forget that Turkey is a NATO country. Russia wouldn't dare attack for that reason.

Chris Knight said...

"You forget that Turkey is a NATO country. Russia wouldn't dare attack for that reason."

A friend suggested the same thing.

Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania are all members of NATO. But... how effective is NATO today, really?

NATO has become too big, spread too thin. The days when it represented a solid alliance of free world countries against the Soviet Union are over. Put that many countries into one pot and there will... there will... arise tension and conflict among member states sooner or later.

So going back to the scenario: Russia moves its army down through Moldova, headed toward the rest of the Balkans. If the goal is to regain Istanbul/Constantinople, would Romania give way for troops movement? Would Bulgaria? Would Greece decide "screw it" and throw in with the Russians?

Mind you, there are still plenty of Greeks for whom, even almost two hundred years later, the word "Missolonghi" evokes bitter, bitter emotion.

So let's add another permutation to our game of "what-if...?"

Russia gets through Romania (by consent or otherwise but I seriously believe Romania might willingly give them the headway). Bulgaria is something of a wildcard but it could possibly assent to opening the way for the Russian forces to continue.

Greece? With five hundred years and more of long-simmering blood? That's a lot of nationalism that suddenly comes into play, demanding that Russia be given permission to pass through and array its forces against the Turkish border on the west side of the Bosporus.

Just as sure as you can spit, you can now kiss NATO goodbye.

A lot of stuff in this maddened melange to consider: Putin's personal brand of Christianity, nationalism, nations currently bound by treaty, the heritage of wars long past and empires now dead, and a city which a great many people believe it is their appointed mission to take back from the infidels.

One could see any number of things happening. This is just a single scenario.

EdB said...

For the record: there is no need to pass through Greece to get to Turkey. There is very little chance Greece would allow communists in. Though the recent economic mess might change it if you are going to reach back centuries for bad blood between Greece and Turkey I will hearken back to the post-WWII fight against communism where Greece gave the bear a very bloody nose.
It is possible that Obama wouldn't back NATO countries, but very slim. The rest of Europe would not stand by for the Russians getting control of the Dardanelles. As far back as the Crimean war at least Europe has been remarkably united in that.
The fighting power of the former Soviet forces is not near what the numbers would indicate. Just look at the "Mother of All Battles" that Saddam gave us... twice. Our tech is far beyond what it was then. Soviet tech has stagnated. Having seen the ease with which we penetrated Baghdad I don't thin Putin wants to invite a smart weapon into his living room. Remember Baghdad had the most potent air defense equipment they could get from the old Soviet Union and we lost more planes to seagulls and other birds than to defensive fire.

Chris Knight said...

EdB, all of that is assuming traditional objectives and the strategies to achieve them. In this case, it wouldn't be Russia trying to defeat all of Turkey. Assuming Putin isn't totally mad, the Russians would never take on all of Turkey.

The objective here would be the conquest of one teeny-tiny portion of Turkey. Namely the part that's in Europe. Even more specifically, Istanbul.

So the scenario ends with the capture of Istanbul, bringing it back under the jurisdiction of Christian-dominated western nations. Hence Russia massing its forces in Greece and Bulgaria opposite Turkey's European border. Put a few divisions there and they would basically swipe Thrace clean headed east toward their soon-to-be-rechristened Constantinople.

There's been some rather interesting commentary lately about Christianity in Russia: how compared to the west (including America) it is the Russians who are coming across as the more devout. That's nothing new to Russia. Even during the height of Stalin's reign, Christianity of many sorts, but especially Old Russian Orthodoxy, thrived underground. It was lamented by many Soviet educators that they could not teach atheism in the schools because as soon as the children returned home, their grandparents would tell them about God, Jesus etc.

It's that kind of a-temporal mindset that first aroused me to consider what might be the be-all/end-all goal of Putin's personal Christianity. One which, it must be said, demonstrates remarkable influence from Russian Orthodoxy and its centuries-long dream of taking back Constantinople.

Anonymous said...

For Reasons that I cannot disclose this scenario will not play out. The only reason that Russia took Crimnea was to ensure the safety of one of their primary Naval ports due to the issues in the region. Putin will stop there. He will not move into Eastern Europe I promise. Not without causing a global war and risking his primary economic sustainment.

Anonymous said...

"for reasons I cannot disclose", re-establishment of Constantinople ... You folks view the world as a fantasy novel. What a bunch of bull.

However, glad you're feeling better.

Carry on.

Gary Ceres said...

NATO is on life support and will be terminated as a treaty soon by Obama's failure of leadership and his antipathy towards Europe in General. My prediction is not that scenario you laid out. I believe Putin will seize Eastern Ukraine but do not think he will enter the balking or Carpathian nations...note even communist Yugoslavia was not able to be brought into the Soviet sphere despite severe pressure. The more likely scenario is that Putin has focused world attention on Ukraine for the sole purpose of invading the Baltic states...Estonia Latvia and Lithuania...all NATO members...Obama will void the treaty by refusing to liberate them. Right now the fate of the Baltic nations rests more with Europe's strongest leader...arguably the world's...Germany's Angela Merkel. I see a real possibility of a polish-Czech-German military intervention to save the Baltic states which will or will not be successful but will ruin forever German-American relations and diminish the US to no longer being the main player on the world scene.

Matt LaCoe said...

Yes...for reasons I cannot disclose. As said before...but hopefully I don't use any of the account options below to add my name so I will just put it in the bloody post.

Gary Ceres said...

I do not believe religion motivates Putin but rather pride and more so....ports. This why I believe Crimea could not be forfeited and why a move against Estonia Latvia and Lithuania with their virtually nonexistent militaries is a far more likely scenario. I don't think Obama nor Cameron nor Hollande will support NATO intervention thus ending the group forever. What is likely to ensue is a realignment of the Cold War with the two primary opposition nations being Russia and Germany each collecting support from central and Eastern European nations while Western Europe and the US lead by weak leaders lose the control of the world stage they once occupied.

Anonymous said...

If Russia is going to retake Constantinople from the Turks, Putin may not even need to ask Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. And many Greeks would volunteer to help Russia on the ground!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Putin's prize: The Second Rome

Vladimir Putin may have come from the KGB.  But there arguably exists aspirations which are far away and removed from anything the Soviet Union set out to achieve.

Allow me to paint a picture...

Very soon, Russia's invasion of Ukraine will commence.  Complete control of Ukraine is not Putin's objective, but neither will it stop there.

There are even now reports of the Russian army stationed in Moldava beginning maneuvers.  It is altogether possible that Ukraine could be faced with invasion along two fronts.

Or not.

Ukraine is needed not to solidify Russia's annexation of Crimea, but to establish an uncontested highway for troops and materiel to be transported to the south and west.  Poland?  Likely it has barely figured into Putin's strategy.  Poland will not be a factor.  Putin is aiming for something far more than re-establishing the borders of Soviet domination during the Cold War.

The Russian army now has free and clear dominion across the north and northwest of the Black Sea.  Next on the agenda: Romania.  Which may or may not acquiesce to Russia's military movements.  When Putin's goals are made clear (perhaps by diplomatic channels) Romania will gladly afford the Russian army to pass through what could be called the "Carpathian Corridor".

And so too might Bulgaria, and then Greece, quickly rally to give passage to the Russian armed forces.  Political boundaries will yield to common cultural ties.  The entire region along the western Aegean Sea is now firmly under Russian control.

It will not be very long before entire divisions of soldiers, tanks, supply lines and reserves are sitting along the border of Thrace.

Ukraine?  Putin is aiming far higher than that.  Ukraine just happens to be in the way.

Because Russia has now positioned itself to take the true prize.  The prize that has been the ultimate goal of Russia - and Orthodoxy in general - for nearly half a millennium:

Istanbul.

The city once known as Constantinople.  The shining jewel of Orthodoxy, until it was conquered by Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453.

Putin knows that he must act soon.  Even now it is being actively discussed in Ankara that Haggia Sophia be turned once again into a Muslim mosque.  Haggia Sophia, which until the fall of Constantinople was the crowning architectural achievement of Orthodoxy as well as it's spiritual focal point in the earthly realm

Haggia Sophia is now a museum.  But to make it a mosque anew?

The Russian - and Greek - Orthodox will NEVER tolerate it.

And then Putin makes the final play of his long game: the re-taking of Constantinople. Russian Orthodoxy's long-dreamt re-conquest of Constantinople from the heirs of the hated Ottomans. The restoration of Haggia Sophia as a church.

It has long been said in Russia that Rome was the first, Constantinople is the second Rome. Moscow is the third. "A fourth there shall not be."

The Third Rome, after more than four and a half centuries, is readying itself to retake the Second. 

Vladimir Putin could very well deem himself the man who is destined to achieve Russia's longest, most lusted-after goal.

It is almost certainly a thought that Putin has seriously contemplated during the past several months and years.  For sure, it has been at least a lingering thought these past few weeks.

Think that western Europe will try to intervene?  In the two and a half decades since the fall of communism, Russia has come to control more than 1/3rd of natural gas and petroleum products throughout the European Union.  Putin merely has to threaten to shut down the pipelines and most of Europe will not be in a position to negotiate with him.

Meanwhile, the troops and tanks are set to roll across the border of westernmost Turkey.

And then they do.

The Second Siege of Constantinople has begun.

It has now gone from clear provocation to full-scale war between Russia and Turkey.

In addition to Istanbul itself, Russia and Turkey especially fight for control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.  The Dardanelles will likely be the secondary objective after entering Thrace.  If Russia succeeds in taking Istanbul - and it most certainly will - Putin will have effective control over the entire Black Sea region apart from northern Turkey.

All to reclaim Constantinople.  To at long last punish the Turks for the desecration of Haggia Sophia.

It could be the single largest open conflict between Christendom and Islam in hundreds of years.

This is the scenario that I have seen could possibly unfold.

Time will tell.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read this 4 times trying to find a fault in this scenario and I can't find one.

Scary times in which we live.

Anonymous said...

You forget that Turkey is a NATO country. Russia wouldn't dare attack for that reason.

Chris Knight said...

"You forget that Turkey is a NATO country. Russia wouldn't dare attack for that reason."

A friend suggested the same thing.

Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania are all members of NATO. But... how effective is NATO today, really?

NATO has become too big, spread too thin. The days when it represented a solid alliance of free world countries against the Soviet Union are over. Put that many countries into one pot and there will... there will... arise tension and conflict among member states sooner or later.

So going back to the scenario: Russia moves its army down through Moldova, headed toward the rest of the Balkans. If the goal is to regain Istanbul/Constantinople, would Romania give way for troops movement? Would Bulgaria? Would Greece decide "screw it" and throw in with the Russians?

Mind you, there are still plenty of Greeks for whom, even almost two hundred years later, the word "Missolonghi" evokes bitter, bitter emotion.

So let's add another permutation to our game of "what-if...?"

Russia gets through Romania (by consent or otherwise but I seriously believe Romania might willingly give them the headway). Bulgaria is something of a wildcard but it could possibly assent to opening the way for the Russian forces to continue.

Greece? With five hundred years and more of long-simmering blood? That's a lot of nationalism that suddenly comes into play, demanding that Russia be given permission to pass through and array its forces against the Turkish border on the west side of the Bosporus.

Just as sure as you can spit, you can now kiss NATO goodbye.

A lot of stuff in this maddened melange to consider: Putin's personal brand of Christianity, nationalism, nations currently bound by treaty, the heritage of wars long past and empires now dead, and a city which a great many people believe it is their appointed mission to take back from the infidels.

One could see any number of things happening. This is just a single scenario.

EdB said...

For the record: there is no need to pass through Greece to get to Turkey. There is very little chance Greece would allow communists in. Though the recent economic mess might change it if you are going to reach back centuries for bad blood between Greece and Turkey I will hearken back to the post-WWII fight against communism where Greece gave the bear a very bloody nose.
It is possible that Obama wouldn't back NATO countries, but very slim. The rest of Europe would not stand by for the Russians getting control of the Dardanelles. As far back as the Crimean war at least Europe has been remarkably united in that.
The fighting power of the former Soviet forces is not near what the numbers would indicate. Just look at the "Mother of All Battles" that Saddam gave us... twice. Our tech is far beyond what it was then. Soviet tech has stagnated. Having seen the ease with which we penetrated Baghdad I don't thin Putin wants to invite a smart weapon into his living room. Remember Baghdad had the most potent air defense equipment they could get from the old Soviet Union and we lost more planes to seagulls and other birds than to defensive fire.

Chris Knight said...

EdB, all of that is assuming traditional objectives and the strategies to achieve them. In this case, it wouldn't be Russia trying to defeat all of Turkey. Assuming Putin isn't totally mad, the Russians would never take on all of Turkey.

The objective here would be the conquest of one teeny-tiny portion of Turkey. Namely the part that's in Europe. Even more specifically, Istanbul.

So the scenario ends with the capture of Istanbul, bringing it back under the jurisdiction of Christian-dominated western nations. Hence Russia massing its forces in Greece and Bulgaria opposite Turkey's European border. Put a few divisions there and they would basically swipe Thrace clean headed east toward their soon-to-be-rechristened Constantinople.

There's been some rather interesting commentary lately about Christianity in Russia: how compared to the west (including America) it is the Russians who are coming across as the more devout. That's nothing new to Russia. Even during the height of Stalin's reign, Christianity of many sorts, but especially Old Russian Orthodoxy, thrived underground. It was lamented by many Soviet educators that they could not teach atheism in the schools because as soon as the children returned home, their grandparents would tell them about God, Jesus etc.

It's that kind of a-temporal mindset that first aroused me to consider what might be the be-all/end-all goal of Putin's personal Christianity. One which, it must be said, demonstrates remarkable influence from Russian Orthodoxy and its centuries-long dream of taking back Constantinople.

Anonymous said...

For Reasons that I cannot disclose this scenario will not play out. The only reason that Russia took Crimnea was to ensure the safety of one of their primary Naval ports due to the issues in the region. Putin will stop there. He will not move into Eastern Europe I promise. Not without causing a global war and risking his primary economic sustainment.

Anonymous said...

"for reasons I cannot disclose", re-establishment of Constantinople ... You folks view the world as a fantasy novel. What a bunch of bull.

However, glad you're feeling better.

Carry on.

Gary Ceres said...

NATO is on life support and will be terminated as a treaty soon by Obama's failure of leadership and his antipathy towards Europe in General. My prediction is not that scenario you laid out. I believe Putin will seize Eastern Ukraine but do not think he will enter the balking or Carpathian nations...note even communist Yugoslavia was not able to be brought into the Soviet sphere despite severe pressure. The more likely scenario is that Putin has focused world attention on Ukraine for the sole purpose of invading the Baltic states...Estonia Latvia and Lithuania...all NATO members...Obama will void the treaty by refusing to liberate them. Right now the fate of the Baltic nations rests more with Europe's strongest leader...arguably the world's...Germany's Angela Merkel. I see a real possibility of a polish-Czech-German military intervention to save the Baltic states which will or will not be successful but will ruin forever German-American relations and diminish the US to no longer being the main player on the world scene.

Matt LaCoe said...

Yes...for reasons I cannot disclose. As said before...but hopefully I don't use any of the account options below to add my name so I will just put it in the bloody post.

Gary Ceres said...

I do not believe religion motivates Putin but rather pride and more so....ports. This why I believe Crimea could not be forfeited and why a move against Estonia Latvia and Lithuania with their virtually nonexistent militaries is a far more likely scenario. I don't think Obama nor Cameron nor Hollande will support NATO intervention thus ending the group forever. What is likely to ensue is a realignment of the Cold War with the two primary opposition nations being Russia and Germany each collecting support from central and Eastern European nations while Western Europe and the US lead by weak leaders lose the control of the world stage they once occupied.

Anonymous said...

If Russia is going to retake Constantinople from the Turks, Putin may not even need to ask Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. And many Greeks would volunteer to help Russia on the ground!