Did Putin Just Tip His Hand On Ukraine?

With all the propaganda flowing back and forth on Ukraine, the only certainty on that entire mess is that nothing is certain. Everything in both the corporate and alternative media is a dysfunctional slop of propaganda, fake news, and pompous pontifications condemning the one side while canonizing the other.

Still, we cannot ignore events in Ukraine, and we should not stop striving to understand events in Ukraine, even though the media goes out of its way to make that process difficult.

Thus I from time to time see a quote from Putin or Zelensky that makes me go “hmmmm……” Putin channeling Mario Puzo by making Europe “an offer they can’t refuse” is one such quote.

https://archive.ph/7LglI/4fc908d43e269be7d0889021c97f1ecfe378ce5d.webp

"The bottom line is, if you have an urge, if it's so hard for you, just lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which is 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year, just push the button and everything will get going," Putin said.

Nord Stream 2, which lays on the bed of the Baltic Sea almost in parallel to Nord Stream 1, was built a year ago, but Germany decided not to proceed with it just days before Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Nord Stream 2 was a contentious issue for years before Putin invaded Ukraine. Russia wanted it, and for a long time Germany was in favor of proceeding with the project. Yet at the very end, after physical completion of the pipeline, Germany nixed the pipeline.

Now Putin is putting the pipeline back on the table. And it is hard not to see an implied peace proposal here: open Nord Stream 2 and Russia will back off on Ukraine (because Ukraine will no longer be in the middle between Russian Natural Gas and the EU).

Is this, then, the core of why Putin decided now was the time to invade Ukraine? That the issue was never about “denazification” of the Ukrainian government but pipeline independence from Ukraine?

If so, where does that leave the diplomatic options? Is there a plausible pathway to peace that does not amount to surrender of either the EU to Russia or of Russia to the EU?

There are existing pipelines Russia could send gas through—and could send more gas through than it is currently. Nord Stream 2 is not a necessity for fulfilling EU gas contracts—but it would be quite the diplomatic prize for Russia in the midst of war.

Could the core issue really be that simple?