As Russia prepares an all-out effort to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Germany, EU and the US prepare to cut critical Russian banks off from the SWIFT financial transfer system. This will result in the collapse of the Russian banking system and its bourse, and hasten the complete collapse of the ruble, which has been in free-fall for days.
It will mean that Russian import-export abilities will grind to a halt, and that European nations will suffer a reduction, or a complete cessation, of imports of Russian natural gas and oil, and will be forced to rely on other resources.
Russia cannot survive long without a financial system, Europe cannot survive long without Russian energy, and the Middle East cannot survive long without wheat exports from Russian and Ukraine.
Exactly what is happening on the ground in Ukraine is unclear. While it does appear that Russia is making advances, should the current all-out effort to take Kyiv fail, it will be a serious military setback. Additionally, the ability of an army of less that 200,000 to control a hostile city of nearly 3,000,000 has yet to be demonstrated.
The great danger of this conflict is that it includes a complex balance of powers similar to the world situation as it existed just prior to World War I, and a dictator who has been counting on a lack of will on the part of the West in the same way that Hitler did prior to World War II.
As the world has modernized, offensive warfare has become more and more difficult, as witnessed by what happened to the Germans when they attempted to solidify their victories after overrunning Europe in the 1940s, and what happened to the US in Vietnam, and to both Russia and the US in Afghanistan.
Possible future escalation could occur if cyberwarfare is employed by Russia to attempt to disrupt the West. This might place the US in the same position that France and Russia found themselves in when the Germans began mobilizing in July of 1914. Even as late as the middle of that month, it was still not apparent that a world war was inevitable. This is also the situation at the present time.
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